A small group of Upper Highway residents held up placards during a “silent protest” at the entrance of the Durban Magistrate’s Court while EnviroServ senior managers appeared on criminal charges. PHOTO: ANA Reporter

Durban - EnviroServ and the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Green Scorpions are expected to go head-to-head in November as the Pietermaritzburg High Court matter set down for Friday was postponed.

EnviroServ requested the adjournment but did not provide a reason.

According to Department of Environmental Affairs spokesperson Albi Modise: “The Department of Environmental Affairs (as it was known then) initiated a criminal investigation against Enviroserv in 2016, after it was established that malodours were emanating from the Shongweni landfill site. These odours formed the basis of a significant number of complaints that were reported to the authorities.”

The Shongweni landfill fight has been raging for more than three years, with community members and the Department of Environmental Affairs fighting the waste management company over odours allegedly emanating from the landfill that have made residents sick.

Modise said EnviroServ had challenged the criminal charges laid against it and which related to contravening various sections of the National Environmental Management Act, which aims to protect and enhance the quality of the air and the prevention of air pollution, among other things, as well as dealing with waste management practices and encouraging environmentally-friendly practices.

Modise said EnviroServ sought to challenge the provisions on the basis that they were vague “and/or that one of the relevant provisions provides for the guilt of the directors by virtue of the company having committed an offence”.

Dean Thompson, EnviroServ Waste Management Group chief executive, said: “The constitutional matter has been postponed until November 1. In the meantime, the company is considering its options but no final decision has been made. We continue to engage with the relevant authorities.”

Lauren Johnson, a founding member of the Upper Highway Air, a not- for-profit company, felt the constitutional challenge was EnviroServ’s way to delay or avoid criminal proceedings.

She said EnviroServ’s clients would be mindful of the lengths that the company would go to in order to avoid responsibility for the alleged pollution that they had caused.

Johnson said Upper Highway Air had a civil case against EnviroServ which was on-going.

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