CoCT Sewage Debacle: ActionSA to file Criminal Complaint as City’s Records Confirm Non-Compliance with Permit Requirements

In our ongoing fight to address the City of Cape Town’s continued discharge of raw sewage into the ocean via its Marine Outfall Pipes, we have uncovered multiple instances of non-compliance with the permit requirements, with alarming consequences for both public health and the environment.

As a result, ActionSA intends to file criminal charges against the City and the Minster of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment.

This decision follows the City’s responses to ActionSA’s request for information, which unveiled their unlawful non-compliance with the stipulated requirements outlined in the Hout Bay Marine Outfall Permit issued in 2019, thereby violating the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act.

The City of Cape Town (CoCT) failed to adhere to critical provisions outlined in the permit, notably with regard to effluent quantity and quality monitoring, consistently surpassing both the permitted quantity and quality thresholds. Importantly, non-compliance with these monitoring requirements constitutes a criminal offense under the requirements of the permit.

Additionally, the CoCT has neglected its duty of care regarding the requisite reporting stipulated in the permit. Furthermore, it has failed to establish a statutory Permit Advisory Forum and has not submitted an effluent improvement plan within the stipulated one-year timeframe following the permit’s issuance.

The National Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment has also fallen short of its responsibilities by not establishing a Compliance Review Committee, as mandated in paragraph 13 of the permit, which would have monitored adherence to the permit conditions.

We previously underscored the significant impact of the City’s continuous discharge of raw sewage into the ocean on the environment, public health and tourism economy. Shockingly, we have now been presented with clear evidence of the City and National Departments’ culpability in this matter. It is both alarming and disheartening to discover that these entrusted authorities are directly contributing to the devastation of marine life and the potential risks to public health.

In light of the above-mentioned, ActionSA will pursue all available avenues to hold the City and National Department accountable for their negligible non-compliance with the permit requirements.

Furthermore, yesterday, ActionSA participated in the first public participation meeting held in Simons Town. Unfortunately, the meeting faced a delayed start, with eager community members encountering a locked community hall upon arrival and City officials arriving late.

These public participation meetings were instigated by the efforts of the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and ActionSA following a successful appeal lodged with Minister Barbara Creecy. The Minister’s findings concluded that the public participation process carried out by the City of Cape Town (CoCT) for obtaining the permit to discharge sewage into the ocean was inadequate, outdated, and had to be redone to uphold the right to just administrative action.

Regrettably, the proceedings of yesterday’s public meeting underscored the longstanding inadequacies of the process. Multiple community members voiced their frustration over the lack of community awareness driven by the City, despite the Minister’s directive for the City to provide notice in the Government Gazette and widely circulated local and national newspapers in English, Afrikaans, and isiXhosa. The directive also called for the placement of notices in public buildings and other locations to inform the inhabitants of the City of Cape Town about these applications.

ActionSA urges all residents of Cape Town, as well as those who hold Cape Town dear as a holiday or business destination, to actively participate in the public participation process. We encourage residents to attend public meetings and submit written comments, objections, and representations.

ActionSA will continue to utilise our social media channels to share this vital information. The following are the scheduled dates for the remainder of this month:

  • 5 October 2023 at the Hout Bay Sport and Recreation Centre at 17:00.
  • 7 October 2023 at the Council’s Chambers with the Cape Town Civic Centre at 10:00.
  • 12 October 2023 at the Rocklands Civic Centre at 17:00.
  • 24 October 2023 at the Sea Point Hall at 17:00.

Given the significant impact of widespread sewage pollution on tourism in KwaZulu-Natal, ActionSA is committed to safeguarding the health of Cape Town residents, protecting the environment, and supporting the vital tourism economy.