Fires at the Msunduzi landfill site have been doused, however toxic smoke is still being emitted.     Picture: Department of EDTEA
Fires at the Msunduzi landfill site have been doused, however toxic smoke is still being emitted. Picture: Department of EDTEA
MEC for Environmental Affairs Nomusa Dube-Ncube visited the Msunduzi landfill site yesterday.     Picture: Department of EDTEA
MEC for Environmental Affairs Nomusa Dube-Ncube visited the Msunduzi landfill site yesterday. Picture: Department of EDTEA
Durban - Msunduzi Municipality will be subjected to a hefty fine for the mismanagement of the city’s landfill site that has been burning since last week and releasing toxic fumes into the air.

It’s believed that the municipality’s lack of compliance dated back to 2015, with over 800 people reported to be living in the landfill site currently.

A visit by the MEC for Environmental Affairs, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, to the New England Road dump-site left her “horrified and angry” that warnings had fallen on deaf ears.

“We had engaged the municipality before. We wrote letters of warning and advised them on a number of occasions. We did everything before we had to escalate it to fines.

“Although we know that the municipality has started consequence management for those managers who haven’t been playing their role in managing the site, we’re now going to fine the municipality,” she said.

Dube-Ncube said there were several non-compliance issues, and a collective government effort was desperately needed.

“This used to be one of the best-run landfill sites in the country, and was winning awards before things went south. We will have to brief the executive council and bring the departments of social development and home affairs to assist in the situation before we lose any lives,” Dube-Ncube said.

She said during her walk-about at the dump she found a number of people starting fires and burning metals.

The waste-pickers burn the items so they can easily compact and pack them into sacks to sell.

“They don’t have protective clothing and are exposed to things that could endanger their lives. Unfortunately, they don’t realise what they are doing is illegal and wrong and has a wider impact. They aren’t thinking about the dangers of the gases in there,” she said.

Dube-Ncube also voiced her concerns that some Pietermaritzburg schools were forced to close as children were being exposed to the toxic fumes.

Toxic smoke has engulfed the KZN capital city since Friday when a fire broke out at the landfill site, leaving firefighters battling to control it.

“This is a serious breach of management of the landfill site. There’s actually no management of the site at all. I’m glad we took the decision to institute fines on the municipality,” Dube-Ncube said.

The municipality was also criticised by the community for the poor management of the landfill site.

Resident, Nkululeko Shezi said that it was only a matter of time before the dump went up in flames again.

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said the municipality acknowledged the fine and would respond when it could.

The Mercury