DA in eThekwini takes city to court over sewage crisis

DA KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Dean Macpherson briefing media at the party's office in Durban.
DA KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Dean Macpherson briefing media at the party's office in Durban.

The eThekwini municipality faces another court challenge over the ongoing sewage crisis which has seriously affected businesses, tourism and the economy. 

The DA in eThekwini has filed papers in the Pietermaritzburg high court to compel the municipality to produce a court-approved plan to address the crisis.

Briefing media on Wednesday, DA KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Dean Macpherson said the party has been gathering information for its legal action for months as it wanted to ensure its case was solid.

“We want to have a structurally sound interdict by the court for the municipality to comply with directives issued by the KwaZulu-Natal departments of economic development, tourism and environmental affairs (DEDTEA) and water and sanitation. These directives date back to 2019 and they have identified the problems in the municipality that need to be dealt with to stop the sewage crises. They have either been partly complied with or have not been dealt with at all.”  

Macpherson said the quickest way to ensure the city complies is to use national legislation through government-issued directives that must be adhered to.  

The DA wants:

  • the decision by eThekwini not to report sewage spills as an “emergency” declared a violation of the National Environmental Management Act;
  • the decision by eThekwini not to file or produce an “action plan” or comply with directives from provincial and national government issued as far back as January 2019 declared irrational, unreasonable, unlawful and unconstitutional;
  • within one month of the date of the court order eThekwini must file a plan to address non-compliance identified by DEDTEA and set measurable deadlines for progress;
  • interested parties be given an opportunity to comment on the “action plan”; and
  • eThekwini to report on progress and what it has achieved within six month of the court order.

The DA's court bid comes after ActionSA’s Durban high court case regarding the sewage crisis was postponed on Monday until next month. 

ActionSA approached the court to compel the government to attend to the crisis.

ActionSA was joined by Abantu Batho Congress as friends of the court in the matter.

The eThekwini metro and tourism ministry have not yet responded to the papers filed by ActionSA late last year.

Both parties must reply by the end of March, with the matter set to return to court on April 3.

Macpherson said:   “When we looked at their papers [ActionSA] we found their intentions and ours are different. They want to go on a process of obstruction information from the municipality and various departments, which is going to take months and months. In our case, information is already publicly available because the directives are based on that information.”

He said they have asked for the matter to be heard as soon as possible. 


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