The spill originated from Willowton Group’s edible oil factory, in Pietermaritzburg, after an incident at the plant.
Sobantu ward councillor Sandile Dlamini said residents living near the river used the water to bathe and wash their clothes, and farmers used it to water their gardens.
“People who have farms next to the river were unable to water their gardens and their crops are dying. We were also concerned about the health of people who wash themselves and their clothes in the river. Some also drink the water,” said Dlamini.
He said the protest action was held after a meeting with the affected communities.
“We were able to engage with Willowton management. We had a very good discussion with them and accepted their solutions,” he said.
He said Willowton were willing to formally apologise to the affected communities.
The Willowton Group said it met with the affected communities to hear their grievances.
“The company acknowledges that the recent industrial spillage has affected the lives of the many community members living along the banks of the Baynespruit River and has resolved to assist in both the short- and long-term rehabilitation of said communities,” said the group.
The group said solutions towards water provision would include JoJo tanks and boreholes.
The group confirmed that the river and banks were cleared of visible product, and there was only a small clean-up team on the river.