With large quantities of raw sewage flowing into the Apies River daily from the Rooiwal sewage treatment plant in the Tshwane Metro Municipality, the Department of Water Affairs has declared the plant and the section of the river north of it a disaster area.
AfriForum made the initial call for the area to be declared a disaster area, and threatened to bring the contamination of the river to the attention of the International Health Organisation and the Blue Scorpions.
“According to the National Water Act, the non-attendance to this kind of pollution is a criminal offence. We’re considering opening a criminal case at the local police station,” AfriForum said.
Julius Kleynhans, AfriForum’s head of environmental affairs, said the problems at the sewerage works were largely due to inadequate planning and mismanagement.
Theunis Vogel, a farmer irrigating from the Apies River, said the problem had resulted in a huge financial loss for him and fellow farmers and threatened their livelihoods. Vogel said the sludge had continuously blocked pumps and pivot sprinklers which had to be fixed constantly. He said the water had been tested and declared unfit for irrigation purposes.
After declaring the area a disaster area, the department made about R11 million available for maintenance and upgrading of the Rooiwal plant. Vogel said he was surprised, as a few months ago he’d been told there was no money to fix the problem.
The Tshwane Metro Municipality didn’t respond when approached for comment. – Peter Mashala
With raw sewage spilling into the Apies River, the area has been officially declared a disaster area.