Byline: Nonjabuliso Nhlambo

10 April 2024

The Bethal Magistrates’ court has on Tuesday, 09 April 2024 imposed a fine of R200 million rand to Govan Mbeki local Municipality for contravention of environmental legislation.

This comes after the Municipality was found guilty on 6 counts relating to Contravention of National Environmental Act (NEMA)107 of 1998, Pollution of Water resources, Contravention of National Water Act 36 of 1998, failure to comply with the compliance notice , unauthorised disposal of water and contravention of Act that detrimentally affects water resources.

During the period between November 2019 – September 2020 the Municipality unlawfully committed an act which caused significant pollution to the environment.

The disposal and distribution of affluent raw and untreated sewer into the following : Emzinoni location, eMbalenhle waste water 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 right of well being.

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

In sentencing the Municipality ,all counts were taken together for purposes of sentence and the municipality was fined to a sum of two hundred million rand (R200 000 000.00 ) of which fifty million rand (50 000 000.00 ) is suspended for a period of five years on condition that the Municipality is not convicted of contravention 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 they will be identified by the contractor on or before December 2026 and installation of weigh bridges to all Landfill sites on or before 30 May 2025.

The National Prosecuting Authority welcomes the sentence and will continue to prosecute without fear or favour.