Half-hearted band-aid stuck on sewage problem in nature reserve

Henry

Raw sewage is illegally dumped daily in Mbombela’s (Nelspruit’s) ecological jewel, the Steiltes nature reserve, and after years of pressure from AfriForum, Silulumanzi, a water purification and waste water service provider, has put a half-hearted band-aid on the problem.

Silulumanzi has been aware of the illegal dumping in the reserve for the past two years, but has not yet done much to address the problem. Fed up that the community’s emergency calls have been ignored for the umpteenth time, AfriForum’s Nelspruit branch wrote an urgent letter to the service provider on Wednesday (February 21). It demanded that the problem be tackled immediately and that Silulumanzi also do everything in his power to prevent the situation from repeating itself elsewhere in the future.

Silulumanzi has meanwhile filled the sewer pipe with cement, but Arlo van Heerden, AfriForum’s district coordinator for the Lowveld, believes that this is by no means a sustainable solution.

“The sewer pipe was installed years ago by a previous resident whose yard was constantly full of sewage as it pushed up from a manhole. Although we are grateful that the sewage will not be dumped further into the reserve for now, the temporary seal may cause sewage to rise up elsewhere. We are also concerned that the pressure will later cause sewage to flow into the reserve again,” says Van Heerden.

AfriForum made an urgent appeal to Silulumanzi to investigate the origin of the sewage problems, correct them and then come up with a plan to stop this problem in its tracks. The civil rights organization also warned that legal action should be considered if the situation is not dealt with once and for all.

The illegal sewage dumping in Steiltes Nature Reserve could have ended in disaster, and it is still unclear what long-term damage was caused by the constant flow of sewage through the reserve.

“The situation is shocking and we will continue to put pressure on Silulumanzi to ensure that a permanent solution is found and answers are provided.”

AfriForum’s Nelspruit branch appeals to residents to approach the branch if they experience similar sewage problems.