The inability of the Makana Local Municipality to gain control of a dangerous landfill site on the outskirts of Makhanda has now become a criminal matter.
On Friday, 26 July 2019, I was joined by the DA’s candidate for the Makana Municipality Ward 12 by-election, Angi Jones, at the Makhanda Police Station in laying criminal charges against the incumbent mayor, municipal manager and the provincial MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism. See pictures here, here and here.
I laid the charges based on their continued failure to adhere to the permit conditions, compliance notices and court orders issued in respect of the Makhanda landfill site. This site, which has in recent weeks burned for extended periods pouring clouds of noxious smoke across the town, is not secure and is improperly managed. See affidavit here.
In March 2015, the Department of Environmental Affairs issued a s31L compliance notice for the landfill site. This was not adhered to. In September of that same year, the Grahamstown High Court found against the Makana Municipality, the municipal manager, the mayor and the MEC, and ordered various remedial actions and regular reporting. Again, this was not complied with.
Over the years that followed 2015, the DA repeatedly raised this issue in council and with the relevant officials. In November 2018 a legal letter was sent to the mayor insisting that the municipality comply with the court order, but to no avail. See letter here. At the same time my colleague Andrew Whitfield MP, wrote to then MEC for Environmental Affairs and Tourism (and now Premier) Oscar Mabuyane MPL enquiring what action would be taken to rectify the situation. He did not respond.
The continued failure by the municipality, its administrative and political leadership, and the province to properly operate, administer and oversee the landfill site saw it again burning in June and July, when the DA conducted oversight inspections on the premises. What we found indicated that leachate run-off was uncontrolled, that equipment meant to maintain the site was inoperable and that there was no perimeter security. No effort had been made to institute recycling or sorting of the waste. It is our contention that this violates the various court orders, compliance notices and the permit conditions.
I therefore laid criminal charges in terms of section 49A of the National Environmental Management Act against those municipal and provincial officials who are ultimately responsible for this function. A successful conviction carries a fine of up to R10 million and 10 years in prison.
The DA will continue to hold Makana Municipality, its elected public representatives and municipal officials to account, in order to ensure good governance, a healthy environment and safe living conditions for all residents.