SASOLBURG. – Raw sewage incorporating human faeces and bits of slaughtered pig has for several months flowed unchecked into the Vaal River. Hundreds of gagging farmers and riverside residents from Deneysville to Parys complain that the foul water endangers livestock.
A princincial Health official points to “gross negligence” – but not by Groenpunt Prison.
Vaalweekblad last week reported on resident’s concern about the shocking pollution of the Vaal River and nearby creeks.
Groenpunt Prison runs a pen of some 4 000 pigs, which Echowild ranger Alex de Koker says the prison slaughters on site. Bits of pig were apparently finding their way into the river due to a broken-down pump. De Koker has extensively photographed the foul-smelling spectacle.
But the “gross negligence” finding seems to indict a specific department for its lack of response to reports lodged by the prison every week for three months, the first after the initial spillage in June.
After this, the prison had to wait for help as it had no capacity to effect its own repairs.
The Health official who spoke to Vaalweekblad said he could say no more as he has yet to write and submit a report. This was also the news from other government departments including Health, the Blue Scorpions and Water Affairs. All have visited the site. Water Affairs took samples and all are compiling reports in response to an urgent ministerial complaint.
Now a temporary pump is at work and a Government official has been posted at the prison to monitor the works on a continuous basis for 36 months.
A daily newspaper Beeld also reported that residents living from Deneysville to Parys were reporting Vaal River water polluted by pieces of pork meat, blood, stomach contents, sewage and old dishwater.
A petition co-ordinated by Mr De Koker has been mounted. Several environmental groups including the Riverside Property Safety Association (RPSA) and Save the Vaal Environment (SAVE) have involved themselves.
SAVE lawyer Adv Lotter Wepener said the SAVE committee met last Sunday to discuss the matter and to decide whether it would take legal steps. SAVE previously launched legal action against the Emfuleni government to stop the dumping of pollutants in the river and its tributaries.
Sedibeng environmental chief Zies van Zyl points out that the crisis is in either event provincial – not municipal – though municipalities collaborate closely in a situation like this.
Mr Van Zyl said all state facilities – like Groenpunt – fall under Province. The was confirmed by a provincial source.
Water catchment manager Peter Hoge (Rand Water) referred Vaalweekblad to Corporate Communicantions head Gregg Mulzack (Rand Water), pointing out that he had been “muzzled”.
┬áNews source: Mooivaal Media – Vaalweekblad