Mpumalanga municipality fined R200 million for polluting rivers

The NPA said it has welcomed a R200 million fine imposed on the Govan Mbeki Municipality for contravention of environmental legislation on Tuesday.

A statement from the National Prosecuting Authority explained that the Mpumalanga municipality was found guilty of six counts relating to the contravention of the National Environmental Act (NEMA) 107 of 1998, pollution of water resources, contravention of the National Water Act 36 of 1998, failure to comply with a compliance notice, unauthorized disposal of water, and contravention of an Act that detrimentally affects water resources.

“During the period between November 2019 and September 2020, the municipality unlawfully committed an act which caused significant pollution to the environment,” an NPA statement read.

Polluting rivers

This included “the disposal and distribution of affluent raw and untreated sewer into the Emzinoni location, the eMbalenhle wastewater treatment plant, Trichardt Spruit, Wela Mlambo, Leandra N17 Pump Station, Waterval Hoek River, Blesbok Spruit, and Groot Spruit”.

“The state and the municipality entered into a plea and sentence agreement.

“Advocate Beauty Cibangu addressed the court that the municipality is convicted of serious offences which had a detrimental effect on the ecological systems and it also affected the citizens the right to well being.

“In mitigation of the sentence, the defence argued that the accused takes responsibility for his actions by pleading guilty, which is a sign of remorse.”

All counts were grouped together in sentencing, and a fine of R2 million was issued, of which R50 million is suspended for a period of five years on the condition the municipality is not convicted of Section 49A of the National Environmental Management Act 5 of 2002 and Section 151 of the National Water Act 36 of 1998.

“The municipality was further ordered to repair all identified equipment as will be identified by the contractor on or before December 2026 and installation of weighbridges to all Landfill sites on or before 30 May 2025.”

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