Environment Body Charges Zuma over /Water Pollution

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BYLINE: Angelique Serrao

JOHANNESBURG: President Jacob Zuma and Minister of Environment and Water Affairs Buyelwa Sonjica are just the latest casualties in a list of government officials who are being charged over water pollution.

Chairwoman for the Environment and Conservation Association Nicole Barlow laid criminal charges against Zuma and Sonjica at the Hartbeespoort police station yesterday in terms of Section 151 of the National Water Act.

Captain Enoch Legoete at first refused to open a case against Zuma, saying he |hadn't committed a crime. Barlow insisted and two case dockets were opened.

Barlow said Sonjica should be charged because she had not done anything to stop the pollution of the catchment area and Zuma should be charged because he was responsible for the ministers.

"He needs to ensure she's doing her job properly," she said.

Criminal charges over water pollution are not new, but Barlow is taking the fight to a new level by laying charges against the president.

Communities, civil society and ratepayers' associations are frustrated by a pollution problem which they say is increasing while water, the country's most precious resource, is in a critical state.

"If we carry on like this in five years we will have no drinkable water left," said |Barlow.

DA councillor Eddie Barlow laid charges last year against municipal manager Philemon Mapulane and |technical services manager Mondi Juta for water pollution in the Madibeng municipality. Juta was later suspended for the collapse of sewage plants.

In May criminal charges were laid against three ministers - Minister of Agriculture Tina Joemat-Pettersson, Mining Minister Susan Shabangu and Sonjica - in Brooklyn, Pretoria.

TauSA said mines which used seven percent of the country's water supply, were responsible for 75 percent of water pollution.

The DA's Gareth Morgan said the general state of sewage infrastructure was appalling.

"About 30 percent of sewage plants could fail any day now. There is a lack of maintenance which means more untreated sewage flows into water courses."

The latest scare is acid mine drainage which will also eventually find its way into |the Hartbeespoort Dam.

Mariette Liefferink from the Federation for a Sustainable Environment said acid mine drainage is flowing directly into the Tweeloopies Spruit which flows into the Crocodile River and the Hartbeespoort Dam. …