eThekwini Municipality Putting the Health and Lives of Residents, Tourists and Employees at Risk

ActionSA calls on the eThekwini Municipality to be honest about the current levels of sewage bacteria (E-coli) in the water and not to put the health and lives of residents, tourists and employees at risk.

An eThekwini Municipality sample taken on the 7 September 2022  has shown that the Water Quality sign at the North Beach Lifeguard Tower reflects an E-coli level of 435 cfu/100ml. Whilst this is just below the acceptable level of 500 cfu/100ml, the Metro sign board reflects the E-coli level as “good”.

In contrast to this reading Talbot, an independent laboratory, shows an E-coli level of 2603 cfu/100ml taken one day later at North Beach. This reading is 5 times higher than the critical level. Despite the above critical levels recorded by the independent laboratory, North Beach and neighbouring beaches remain open.

Whilst ActionSA recognises the need to open beaches from a tourist for the purposes of economic activity, it is important that the safety of all beachgoers including lifeguards be a priority. For as long as the beaches remain open, lifeguards are compelled to remain on duty which puts them at risk. The Metro is potentially in breach of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and The Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

The health and lives of residents, tourists and employees are at risk.  Should someone get seriously ill from swimming in the eThekwini beaches that should have been closed but remined open as a result of dishonesty or negligence, the Municipality and senior officials including the Mayor and City Manager could be held criminally liable.

ActionSA, has raised and will continue to raise the urgent need to fix the broken sewer system which we appreciate may have been exacerbated by the floods earlier this year. Whilst the system is being fixed and E-coli levels are above acceptable levels the beaches should remain closed so as to protect the health of beachgoers.