Durban -

In papers that came before the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Wednesday, the eThekwini Municipality has denied that its own employees were mining sand illegally in Cato Ridge.

Zimasa Mashiyi, the city’s legal adviser, was replying to allegations made by Malusi Stanley Mthembu – cited as the owner of two businesses, one a sand and stone company – whom the city has accused of the illegal sand mining.

Mashiyi said Mthembu’s allegation was not supported by any evidence.

Earlier this year, the municipality applied to the court for an interdict stopping the sand mining and ordering Mthembu to rehabilitate the property.

A temporary order was granted, which Mthembu is opposing, despite his assertions that he had stopped mining in December.

The municipality said Mthembu had not been given permission to mine, and that the land, about 96.5 hectares, had a “significant wetland system and watercourse on it”.

It was presently unzoned, and could be used only for agricultural purposes.

Mashiyi said in the latest court papers that it was common cause that Mthembu and his company had repeatedly and unlawfully mined for sand on the municipality’s property, without getting the relevant permit or permission from it.

He said Mthembu’s assurances that he would not mine were not sincere, but tailored specifically for this litigation. He said that, while Mthembu claimed he had stopped mining, his employees were observed mining in March.

He also said Mthembu had not rehabilitated the land on which he had mined.

Mthembu said in court papers that, after his company had mined on the land, they had always rehabilitated it by re-covering the excavations. At present, no damage had been caused to the environment that could be attributed to them.

He said that in April 2012 he and his two companies had received permission from the landowner to mine

They were not the only people to mine there, Mthembu said. Employees of the municipality also mined on the land.

The matter would be argued in November.

The Mercury