Uvongo open for swimming, but…

DA councillors Leonard Ngcobo and George Henderson show media representatives a map highlighting how the tributary that flows from Masinege and the Uvongo lagoon are linked.

UGU Municipality is currently installing two 20 000lt sewerage tanks at Masinenge after ward councillor George Henderson identified overflowing old tanks on the same site as the possible cause of Uvongo river and lagoon being ‘very, very highly contaminated‘ at some stage over the festive season.

These tanks are a temporary measure and the old tanks have been cleared.

“Too little too late,” said Cllr Henderson.

Hundreds of people inundated doctors and hospital emergency rooms, many claiming to have fallen ill late December after swimming at Uvongo. Others suggested it was a ‘seasonal bug’. Doctors and hospitals said they could not pinpoint the cause.

However, the beach remains open as Ray Nkonyeni Municipality claims that there is no evidence to suggest that it is currently unsafe to swim. ‘No Swimming’ signs are still up at the lagoon.

“We would advise people to exercise caution with the lagoon until Ugu has given the all clear. We are also distributing notices to the public to warn them of the contamination in the lagoon,” said communications officer Nomusa Zulu.

Cllr Henderson and other DA councillors took the media on a tour of the Masinenge site on Monday and then proceeded to the Margate police station to lay criminal charges against Ugu manager, DD Naidoo, as the accounting officer.

The charges are under the National Water Act (Act 36 of 1998) Section 151 which states ‘no person may unlawfully and intentionally or negligently commit any act or omission which pollutes or is likely to pollute a water resource’.

Mr Henderson also took the tour to a second possible source in Uvongo’s Edward Avenue.

Ugu municipality staff install a temporary sewerage system in Masinege on Wednesday this week. Photo: Ugu

Ugu municipality staff install a temporary sewerage system in Masinege on Wednesday this week.
Photo: Ugu

He claimed that it had taken an hour to locate the alleged sources of the spills and produced a number of photographs – including aerial – which were also submitted as evidence.

This followed statements made by Mr Naidoo last week confirming that tests done by their Environmental Health Department showed the lagoon was toxic.

He said they were still searching for the source of the contamination which probably took place on or about December 20.

Municipal spokesman France Zama said this week: “Our initial physical investigations showed no traces of sewage spillage from our system.”

They had since widened the scope of the investigation, but couldn’t comment on the charges laid by Cllr Henderson.

The latter accused the municipality of not draining the old tanks, causing spillage into the lagoon. He also said they had mislead residents and had negligently put their health at risk.

Cllr Henderson believed information provided by Ugu about no traces of sewage being found in the river was ‘a lie’.

“Ugu has been caught lying, with their pants down,” he said.

Other councillors (who asked not to be named) raised concerns over the criminal charges as they said Cllr Henderson sat on the Ugu Council.

 

Ugu municipality deputy mayor Mondli Chiliza directed all media queries to Mr Zama as this was ‘council policy’.

Police spokesman Captain Gerald Mfeka confirmed a docket had been sent to the senior public prosecutor for a decision.

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