Fish that have died in Msunduzi River in Pietermaritzburg as a result of pollution. Picture supplied

Durban - The Inkatha Freedom Party has appealed for government to assist residents who have suffered as a result of the oil spill into the Duzi River last week. 

KZN IFP spokesperson on Conservation and Environmental Affairs, Joshua Mazibuko, said they were devastated by reports that communities along the uMsunduzi River are losing livestock owing to last week’s oil-spill following the collapse of Willowton Group’s oil tanks.

"According to reports, communities are in a quandary because uMsunduzi River is the only source of water for their livestock. This indeed is a serious setback for these communities especially in the light of the very unhealthy economic situation in our country which exacerbates unemployment and poverty. Cnsequently, while we commend the steps that the Department of Economic Affairs, Tourism and Environment and Willowton Group have taken towards cleaning uMsunduzi River, as well conducting the investigation, we urge them to further devise urgent means to attend to the urgent needs of these communities, who otherwise are facing tough times ahead," he said. 

Local conservationists, landowners and environmentalists have established the Duzi Disaster Fund. The environmental organisations have called for assistance with the clean-up operations. The spill, believed to be the largest in three decades, originated from FMCG firm Willowton Group’s edible oil factory in Pietermaritzburg.

The Willowton Group said a full report and assessment would be made to the relevant government departments once the investigation had been completed.

“Willowton deeply regrets the occurrence and are doing everything possible to contain and remediate the affected environment,” said the group.

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The Mercury