Vaal sewage crisis could lead to huge civil cases against state, SAHRC warns

The inquiry into the Vaal sewage spill has found that the waste pollution was undoubtedly a crisis and an obvious liability to the state.

FILE: Raw sewage at a settlement in Boipatong in the Vaal area. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG - An inquiry into the Vaal sewage crisis has warned that the consequences of the pollution could result in a string of legitimate civil claims against the Department of Water and Sanitation for damages.

According to a report by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), further litigation could escalate all the way to the Constitutional Court.

READ: SAHRC recommends that cabinet intervenes in Vaal sewage ‘crisis’

The commission released its findings on Wednesday after launching the investigation back in 2018.

The inquiry into the Vaal sewage spill has found that the waste pollution was undoubtedly a crisis and an obvious liability to the state.

Human Rights commissioner Jonas Sibanyoni said that the poor service delivery and constitutional violations could result in a massive civil case for the state.

"In respect of Water and Sanitation Department, the pollution of the Vaal area will result in further litigation that could escalate all the way to the Constitutional Court."

The commission has recommended that any irregular or fruitless and wasteful expenditure be investigated and the relevant parties be made to pay back the monies to the municipality and where applicable, the matter must be reported to the police.

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