Employees of Ndlambe Municipality were caught in the act on Saturday March 7, doing what residents say has been happening for months and perhaps even years.
This writer chanced upon a municipal honeysucker (vacuum tanker) backed up against the bush in Wharf Street adjacent to Nemato, discharging liquid from the back of tanker. My immediate suspicion was that, it being a sewage tanker, it was dumping sewage.
My suspicions were confirmed by the stench and the guilty reaction of the three men in the cab. One jumped out and ran to the back of the truck to turn off the valve while I was taking photos. The driver hid his face and then waved a wheel spanner at me out of the window to show his displeasure.
They soon pulled off, but then reversed towards me in what seemed to be an attempt to run me over or at least scare me. I ran out of the way and continued taking photos of the other side of vehicle. They then sped off.
My brief story accompanied by photos on Talk of the Town’s website, posted to Facebook, has become one of our most shared posts ever, approaching 300 shares. Many, many people have paid attention to this incident, both local and out of town.
Several residents commented that they knew this had been happening since last year, and some said this explained the stench of sewage on that stretch of road.
The Freedom Front Plus has since contacted me and said they had taken an interest as they have a campaign in the Eastern Cape to hold municipalities to account for negligence in handling of sewage.
“Raw sewage is dumped that can cause a cholera outbreak in the province,” FF+ Eastern Cape chief logistics manager Bill Harington said.
Harington has reported the matter to the Green Scorpions and the Human Rights Commission, which have acknowledged receiving the complaint and request for action against Ndlambe Municipality for dumping raw sewage illegally.
For now it seems like the municipality is even loathe to admit wrongdoing by its employees. It took two days for municipal spokesman Cecil Mbolekwa to even respond to my queries, and the answer he gave was tepid.
The licence plate of the honeysucker is clearly visible in my photos, and the municipality will know exactly who was on duty in that truck that day. They must face disciplinary action, and if their actions have been condoned by their supervisor, he too must face the music.
– Jon Houzet