Members of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance demonstrate in Cape Town outside the Investec building where the Safripol board was holding a meeting. Safripol is one of Africa’s leading plastic manufacturers, and in August a chemical fire at the Durban plant reportedly left area residents panicked and short of breath. Picture: Mwangi Githahu/Cape Argus
Cape Town - Environmental activists from Durban descended on the Mother City on Wednesday to protest outside a building where board members from a KZN plastic manufacturer were meeting.

Members of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) came to picket board members and shareholders of Safripol, a fibre plant based in Jacobs, south of Durban, that manufactures polyethylene terephthalate resin and polyester fibre, where a chemical fire in August reportedly left residents coughing and battling to breathe.

Leader of the protest, Desmond D’Sa, who lives in the Jacobs area and heads the SDCEA, said the fire was as a result of dowtherm, a compound used in industrial heat transfer systems.

He said: “Heavy toxic chemical substances were released into the air from the Safripol plant, into the community of Wentworth on August16 and this compromised the health of community members unfavourably on the fence line of the industrial company. A lot of children were affected. Old people and babies have been particularly badly affected,” D’Sa said.

In Cape Town, the picket was joined by members of Extinction Rebellion SA.

The protesters said their demands were that the board members should “visit Safripol Durban and meet those affected, cover medical costs of those affected by the chemical fire, and commission an independent report to determine adequate compensation to all those affected”.

Safripol general manager Anton Booysen, who speaks on behalf of the company, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday afternoon.

Desmond D'Sa of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) leads a protest against Safripol outside Investec House in Cape Town where the company is holding a board meeting. This demonstration follows an incident where heavy toxic chemical emissions released into the air from Safripol Plant, into the community of Wentworth on Friday 16 August 2019, compromising the health of community members unfavourably situated on the fence line of the industrial company. Video: Mwangi Githahu/Cape Argus
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