Court expected to deliver ruling on Umsunduzi municipality landfill site case

The South African Human Rights Commission approached the Pietermaritzburg High Court to force the municipality to come up with a plan to save the environment and uphold public health standards.

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

DURBAN - The people of Umsunduzi in KwaZulu-Natal are hoping that they'll finally be rid of what they call a public health disaster.

The Pietermaritzburg High Court is on Thursday expected to deliver judgment in the case brought against the Umsunduzi Local Municipality over its New England Road landfill site.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) launched the court bid late last year after accusing the local municipality of violating the Constitution by mismanaging the site.

People living around the New England Road landfill site said that it was an environmental hazard and a public health disaster.

After years of fighting, the Human Rights Commission took up the residents’ cause. The poor management of the site has contributed to the emission of toxic fumes and regular outbreaks of fires.

The South African Human Rights Commission approached the Pietermaritzburg High Court to force the municipality to come up with a plan to save the environment and uphold public health standards.

For its part, the municipality said that the poor management of the site was not intentional. It has argued in the court that budgetary constraints, as well as procurement policies were some of the reasons why it had failed to fully comply with environmental and health laws.

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