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Major Court Order Halts Vaal River Sewage Pollution



Vaal River sewage pollution

Save the Vaal Environment secures court order against government officials to halt Vaal River sewage pollution.

A major victory has been achieved by Save the Vaal Environment in their legal battle against government officials in South Africa. Development Diaries reports that Justice Gregory Wright of the Gauteng High Court issued a court order against Minister Senzo Mchunu of Water and Sanitation, Minister Barbara Creecy of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, and other officials as reported by Development Diaries.

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The court order, as described by Justice Wright, highlights the unlawful discharge of raw or inadequately treated sewage from the Emfuleni local municipality’s wastewater system into the Rietspruit River, Klip River, Vaal River, and Vaal River Catchment Areas. This pollution directly violates the National Environmental Management Act (Nema) and National Water Act, and immediate preventive measures are mandated.

Malcolm Plant, Chairperson of Save the Vaal Environment, stated, “This is a significant triumph for Save the Vaal after years of legal battles and persistent pressure on the authorities.” The Vaal River, renowned as one of South Africa’s fastest-flowing rivers, holds great importance as it houses the Vaal Dam, a vital water source for the economically prominent Gauteng Province. Unfortunately, the river has suffered from continuous pollution due to an ageing wastewater treatment system in the catchment area, posing threats to both the invaluable resource and the local economy.


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In 2021, a South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) report revealed that approximately 19 million South Africans depend on the Vaal water system for water security. Thus, the pollution in the Vaal River jeopardises natural ecosystems and public health. As part of the court order, Minister Mchunu is required to submit an affidavit within 45 court days outlining the actions taken to address the issue and providing an action plan with specified timelines and funding.

The court order serves as a significant step towards safeguarding the Vaal River and ensuring a healthier future for the communities it sustains.

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Photo: Facebook / @SAVE the Vaal Environment

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