Shongweni activist refuses to be bullied
Share this article:
Durban - An outspoken campaigner fighting EnviroServ Waste Management, the company operating the landfill site at Shongweni, will not be bullied into submission, his lawyers said on Wednesday.
“We will not roll over. We just want this matter to go to trial so that evidence can be given,” said advocate Natalie Lange, representing the UK-based Jeremy Everitt, who has been mounting a social media campaign against EnviroServ.
The campaign, supported by hundreds of people in the Hillcrest area, has called for the closure of the landfill site, claiming the fumes from the site are responsible for a variety of illnesses. EnviroServ has denied it is the sole source of the stench and denies being responsible for any adverse medical conditions.
EnviroServ is attempting to gag Everitt, who has relatives in the Highway area, and has taken out an urgent interdict against him in the Durban High Court. It says he has kept up a relentless campaign, accusing him of defamation and of harassing the company’s staff, shareholders and customers.
The company also claimed that photographs that Everitt published of “distressed children”, suffering the effects of the fumes, were not children from the area. Everitt said he would argue that they were.
Scores of people from the Hillcrest area, followers of the growing Facebook page Upper Highway, What’s That Smell?, were in court yesterday to support Everitt, who is still in the UK, and to follow the proceedings.
Most wore T-shirts with the message “I have the right to breathe clean air,” while Chantal Saunders arrived sporting a mask generally used to block out chemical fumes.
The matter was heard before Judge Johan Ploos van Amstel and a consent order was granted for both parties to be back in court next Tuesday to deliver their heads of argument.
Lange said she would oppose the application and felt there was no need for an urgent interdict.
“When people bring an urgent application, it is because there is something new. There is nothing new about Everitt speaking out and we are saying this is not an urgent matter. This is a constitutional issue. We have a legal entitlement to speak out, to campaign and assemble and breathe fresh air,” she said.
Lange said the action had caught Everitt on the back foot as he had to respond very quickly and spend his time reading through 130 pages of affidavits and going to the South African High Commission in London to have the papers authorised.
She pointed out that there was a jurisdiction issue too.
“People trying to serve papers on an overseas-based respondent have to apply to a South African court to get permission, but this was not done.
“Everitt had been sent an email,” she said.