SAHRC confident of its case against uMsunduzi municipality over landfill

The site, which many environmental groups have described as a health hazard, has been linked to the emissions of toxic fumes and outbreaks of fires in the city.

'Waste-pickers' at the New England Landfill Site in Pietermaritzburg. Picture: Nkosikhona Duma/Eyewitness News.

DURBAN - The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is confident it has a strong case against the uMsunduzi Local Municipality in Pietermartizburg over the poor state of the New England Landfill Site.

The site, which many environmental groups have described as a health hazard, has been linked to the emissions of toxic fumes and outbreaks of fires in the city.

The commission wants the courts to force the municipality to improve safety measures there, accusing it of violating the Constitution.

The matter was heard in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday.

SAHRC said the uMsunduzi Local Municipality had failed to properly manage the New England Landfill Site for over a decade, compromising the health of the community.

The commission’s KZN manager Lloyd Lotz said this left them no choice but to take legal action.

“When you look at the facts over 10 years, it then led us to the decision that not much is going to come out of talking because the second respondent, which is the Department of Economic Development and Environmental Affairs in KZN had, in our view, done everything to try and get the municipality to comply but it failed every time.”

Musa Chamane of GroundWork, a local environmental justice NPO said they were considering applying to be a friend of the court on the matter because of the concerning state of the landfill site.

“The landfill is poorly managed, and you find that waste is not covered. Even the traffic coming into the land site is not properly managed.”

The uMsunduzi Local Municipality has until 19 January to file answering affidavits on the matter and the commission must respond by 10 February.

The commission wants the matter heard on an urgent basis.

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