ActionSA hauls cabinet ministers and eThekwini municipality to court over polluted beaches

Suthentira Govender Senior reporter
ActionSA supporters outside the Durban high court on Wednesday, where the action was instituted.
ActionSA supporters outside the Durban high court on Wednesday, where the action was instituted.
Image: Peter Graham via Facebook

ActionSA in KwaZulu-Natal has instituted legal action against the eThekwini municipality, mayor Mxolisi Kaunda and various cabinet ministers over Durban’s sewage pollution crisis.

A legal team representing the party filed papers at the Durban high court on Wednesday.

The municipality, provincial authorities and the ministers — including minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, water and sanitation minister Senzo Mchunu, tourism minister Lindiwe Sisulu and environmental affairs minister Barbara Creecy — have been accused of “failing to maintain and renew sewer infrastructure in and around the metro”.

In his affidavit ActionSA KZN leader Zwakele Mncwango said: “As it stands, some of the most popular beaches in eThekwini remain closed, such as Umhlanga and Umdloti. It is unlikely they will reopen before the festive season, which is mere weeks away. Would-be holidaymakers have cancelled bookings, causing economic hardship on the tourism industry.

“In addition, the fishing industry has been hit hard,, heavily affecting small businesses.

ActionSA has asked the court to order the respondents to make available a list of wastewater pump stations, treatment plants and other water reticulation systems that are not operational, vandalised or in disrepair.

“Some form of interim measures must now be enforced upon the respondents in the hope that the tourism industry in the region may be salvaged,” it said.

“At the very least, a transparent approach must be taken so people are able to make an informed decision when entering or using our waterways.

“From the recreational activities they undertake to the water they consume in the informal areas, every aspect of residents’ lives is at risk.”

It also asked the court to order the appointment of an accredited and independent water sanitation expert to test, obtain and report the daily readings of E. coli levels of ocean water at all eThekwini beaches, and that the readings be made available on visible signage at all beaches.

The papers filed at the Durban high court on Wednesday by ActionSA.
The papers filed at the Durban high court on Wednesday by ActionSA.
Image: Peter Graham via Facebook

The respondents have 15 days to file their notice of intention to oppose the matter and a further 15 days to file responding affidavits.

The matter is expected to go before court in February next year.

Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the city was not aware of “any papers in any court of law by ActionSA against us.

“We are living in a democratic country and they have a right to go that route. The city will respond when the need arises. But we are appealing to all political formations within our council to work with the city to face the challenges we are now facing.

“We are very proud of the strides we have made so far to attend to the infrastructure that was damaged by the floods. We must be mindful that this was a natural disaster and not of our making.

“We understand the frustration, but we are trying our best to ensure the situation is back to normalcy.

“We are certain that by December 1 all our beaches will be open. Many beaches have been opened because of low levels of E.coli.”

He said the city was busy with repairs to damaged infrastructure.


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