Company charged for polluting the Selati River
On Thursday, 6th August 2015 the Department of Environmental Affairs welcomed the sentence against Bosveld Phosphate (PTY) Ltd in relation to environmental degradation and water offences. These charges relate to unlawfully and intentionally or negligently causing a situation in December 2013 which led to water containing polluted substances being released into the Selati River which forms one of the tributaries of the Olifants River.
The Olifants River eventually flows through the Kruger National Park which is one of South Africa’s biggest drawcards for tourism. The waste water that was released had the potential to cause serious damage, not only to the immediate environment, but also to water resources of Mozambique. Quick intervention by the authorities was therefore critical. At the time SANParks, together with the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation, ensured that immediate measures were implemented by Bosveld to ensure that the risk to the environment was reduced. These measures included dredging the impoundment facilities to create extra storage capacity and a number of other activities in order to ensure that another spill did not occur.
In total, R48 million rand was spent in implementing these measures. The criminal prosecution of this matter was led by the Green Scorpions of the National Department of Environmental Affairs. After a thorough investigation of this matter, Bosveld pleaded guilty to all the charges of pollution between the periods of December 2013 and March 2014 at the Regional Court for the Regional Division of Limpopo in Phalaborwa on 30 July 2015.
In terms of Section 34 (1) and (3) of the National Environmental Management Act of 1998, the accused was ordered by the court to pay an amount of one million, four hundred and fifty thousand rand (R1 450 000) within 14 days from the date of the sentence, in addition to a number of suspended sentences (fines adding up to an additional R1 100 000) for contravention of the National Environmental Management Act and the National Water Act.
The Department of Environmental Affairs will use the remedial measure amount for the purpose of proper execution of the Green Scorpions enforcement duties, environmental rehabilitation, enforcement training and also for the benefit of SANParks and the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation.
The Department of Environmental Affairs is mandated to protect the environmental rights of every citizen by ensuring they have an environment that is not harmful to their health, for the benefit of present and future generations through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent pollution and ecological degradation.
“The Department of Water and Sanitation, the South African National Parks and the Limpopo Department of Economic Development and Tourism have played a key role in advising, supporting and ensuring that emergency measures were implemented during and after the spill incidents,” said Mr Albi Modise, Spokesman for the Department of Environmental Affairs.
Modise commended the work of the Green Scorpions and further warned that this should serve as a message for would-be offenders and encouraged companies to adhere to legislative provisions.
Issued by the Department of Environmental Affairs