AfriForum welcomed the request by Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister of Water, Sanitation and Human Settlements, that Ekurhuleni Water Care Company (Erwat) must urgently make a point of putting a stop to the pollution of the Vaal River. It is however concerning that the Minister has only now intervened after years of pollution, as well as that she doesn’t mention anywhere that the guilty parties will be punished. The biggest problem is also municipalities not being held accountable for poor maintenance.
“AfriForum has already in 2018 submitted criminal charges against the responsible parties that failed in their duties. However, these charges are still pending. We requested a meeting with the Minister in 2019, but it fell on deaf ears,” says Lambert de Klerk, Manager of Environmental Affairs at AfriForum.
According to AfriForum’s annual blue and green drop report, there is a drastic decline when the results of water samples taken in 2017 are compared to those of 2018, while it has worsened even further in 2019. This report is also familiar to the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS). The local AfriForum branch also unsuccessfully launched various actions to force the Municipality into taking action.
Sisulu also mentioned that she wants to declare the area a disaster area and that money will then be appropriated to resolve the crisis. According to reports, nearly R1 billion is needed to rehabilitate the Vaal River and should the money be appropriated for this purpose, the expenditure thereof must be closely monitored to prevent misappropriation.