GRAAFF-REINET NEWS & VIDEO - The police are investigating a case of unlawfully and intentionally polluting a water source against Dr Eddie Rankwana, Municipal Manager of the Dr Beyers Naudé Municipality (DBNLM).
Samantha Graham Maré, Member of Parliament and DA Constituency Leader for the DA in the DBNLM district, filed the case against Rankwana on 5 February.
Graham Maré said the charge is related to Section 151 (1) of the National Water Act 36 of 1998, following the municipality’s continued intentional and wilful contamination and pollution of the Sundays River.
Police Spokesperson, Captain Bradley Rawlinson, confirmed the case is being investigated by Graaff-Reinet detectives. "The inability of the Dr Beyers Naudé Local Municipality to curb the flow of raw sewage into the Sundays River has now become a criminal matter," Graham Maré said.
She was accompanied by the DA Eastern Cape Shadow MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs, and Tourism, Yusuf Cassim, in laying the criminal charges at the GraaffReinet SAPS.
If found guilty, prescribed sentences for such a crime are either up to 10 years imprisonment, a substantial fine, or both.
According to Graham Maré, the pollution of the Sundays River has been ongoing over the past five years, with the municipality seemingly unable, or unwilling, to fix the pump stations that will stop the flow of raw sewage into the river.
"Despite the continued assertions by the municipality that the sewage pump stations have been repaired and are in working order, all indications are that this is not the case and that both the Nqweba Dam and the Sundays River are being polluted by sewage," she said.
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She added that Cypress Grove residents are constantly overwhelmed by the stench of sewage, and are unable to operate their hospitality businesses or even keep the windows of their homes open due to the unbearable smell.
In Graham Maré's affidavit to the police, she first reported the sewerage pump overflowing at Tronkdrif to Rankwana in January 2018. On 16 July 2018, she investigated and later reported a leak from the 7de Laan pump station to Rankwana.
An on-site inspection of the sewage pump stations at Tronkdrif and Kroonvale Bridge also took place in March last year. There, according to Graham Maré, the extent of the sewage spill was extensive.
In her affidavit, she said this was all declared to Rankwana, but the problems were never solved. The municipality was asked for comment but did not respond in time for print.
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