TALK of the Town learned last week that the Public Protector is investigating the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) decision not to prosecute Ndlambe Municipality for allegedly setting fires at the Bushman’s/Marselle dump site.
Kenton resident David Burr has been fighting a virtual one-man battle for justice in the case, which stretches back for about five years.
Fires were a regular feature at the unlicensed dump site until it was closed by the municipality last year, after the Kenton-on-Sea Ratepayers Association (Kosra) won a structural interdict against Ndlambe for the conditions of the landfill site.
The municipality was ordered to rectify illegalities at the dump, including the burning of refuse, and report back on progress every 90 days. It opted rather to close the dump before finding an alternative site. Since then household refuse has been transported from Kenton to Port Alfred, which has the only licensed dump in Ndlambe.
But Burr had been crusading about the issue long before Kosra got involved. Living across the Bushman’s River from the landfill site, he and his family often endured the toxic fumes of burning rubbish at all hours of the day.
He used to call the Ndlambe fire department every time he saw fire and smoke at the dump, and after initial reluctance, firefighters came to battle the blazes. But often the smouldering embers would reignite into new fires, some which lasted for days.
Believing the fires were set deliberately by municipal workers in an effort to reduce the mass of garbage at the overflowing dump site, Burr opened cases at the Kenton police station, and experienced stonewalling and delays until a docket was finally sent to the director of public prosecutions in Grahamstown two years ago.
Also in that period, he contacted the Green Scorpions and was able to persuade them to do an onsite inspection of the Bushman’s/Marselle dump. After that visit the Green Scorpions issued a pre-compliance notice to the municipality, listing all the issues of non-compliance with the law at the landfill site, including the fires, failure to secure the site and failure to compact waste and cover it with soil.
Yet, nothing further came of the Green Scorpions’ warning to Ndlambe to sort out the problems, and they stopped responding to TotT’s questions.
Burr was further disappointed when the director of public prosecutions declined to prosecute the matter. He asked for a nolle prosequi and eventually received it after TotT also asked the NPA about it.
The Public Protector has already made initial enquiries to the NPA and is keeping Burr updated.
– Jon Houzet