Cape Town - Severe environmental degradation has led the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning to issue a directive for activities to cease at the Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve, Ceres and the neighbouring Valschgat Kloof farm.
Department spokesperson Rudolf van Jaarsveldt said an investigation into the allegations of pollution and degradation of the environment was conducted by Environmental Management inspectors of the department and CapeNature after a complaint was received from a member of the public last year.
“Following the inspections and review of botanical and engineering reports, it was confirmed that activities are causing and have caused significant pollution and degradation of the environment,” said Van Jaarsveldt.
Van Jaarsveldt said the investigation revealed the damage was caused by a bulldozer used to clear areas containing indigenous vegetation at the Mastroosberg Private Nature Reserve for the construction of a parking area at the Groothoek Kloof viewpoint (located on Valschgat Farm), and the development, expansion and widening of roads on Erfdeel farm and Valschgat Kloof farm, which fell within a highly sensitive botanical and threatened species area.
The department has instructed the owners, among others, immediately to cease the harmful activities causing the degradation and pollution, as well as cease all vehicular driving activities not related to protea harvesting on the road, and to submit a rehabilitation plan.
“The directive in terms of section 28(4) of the National Environmental Management Act (Nema) was issued to the owners to prevent and/or minimise the pollution and/or degradation from continuing,” said Van Jaarsveldt.
Attorneys West & Rossouw, representing Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve, said the nature reserve would not comply with the directive until their concerns about the situation were addressed by the department.
Attorney Dani Rossouw said: “It is apparent from a media release issued by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning on July 23, 2021 that it is of the view that it had issued the aforesaid directive to Matroosberg, whereas, in fact, it was issued, as we have said, to Spekrivier (Pty) Ltd, a company which is not at all involved in the administration of Matroosberg.”
Van Jaarsveldt said the directive was sent to both Spekrivier (Pty) Ltd and Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve, because a portion of the private nature reserve was owned by the trust, and therefore, as a landowner they also had a responsibility in terms of section 28 of Nema.