Tourism operators in Mpumalanga have been forced to close down a popular tourist route because of human waste flowing from the sewerage works near the town.
In what could be called a crisis bordering on a catastrophe at Lake Chrissie in Chrissiesmeer, about 24000litres of effluent water is daily flowing into the largest lake in South Africa.
The Matotoland Eco-tourism Association has now closed its most popular hiking and bird- watching route which straddles the 0,5km of human waste flowing from the sewerage works across the grassland into Lake Chrissie.
The authorities said that to continue operating the Matoto Route would be unprofessional and that the integrity of private sector tourism would be questioned should this crisis be ignored.
John Mahlangu, a resident, complained about the stench as being "absolutely awful".
"We have now opted to keep our windows tightly closed against the smell," Mahlangu said.
Grass and Wetlands Regional Tourism yesterday said it supported the decision to close the hiking route.
Its chairman, Athol Stark, said: "We are of the opinion that this issue threatens the environment and the health of both tourists and residents."
Tourists and locals have been warned not to enter the area on the northern side of the lake as the sewerage is flowing across an area of about 600m by 100m.
All activities, which include hiking, bird watching, mountain biking, photography and canoeing have been stopped.