On Tuesday a criminal case was opened against Blyvoor Gold Mine over its pollution of the area.
The area also includes the Wonderfontein Spruit which flows into the Mooi River.
An environmentalist, Mariette Liefferink, who is also the chief executive officer of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE), a non-profit organisation which aims to protect the environment, opened the case at the Police in Carletonville.
“The Bill of Rights in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa affords everyone the right to dignity, freedom and security, privacy, freedom of movement; but more specifically, in terms of section 24, the right to an environment that is not harmful to health and well-being,” Liefferink stated, and added that this right includes the duty of the State to protect the environment against pollution.
Liefferink personally opened the case as Article 34 of the Constitution, which determines that every person has the right of access to the Courts in order to have a dispute heard by means of a fair public hearing; and Article 38 of the Constitution determines that any person may also act on behalf of a group or class of persons or in the interest of the public if a right contained in the Bill of Rights has been infringed upon. She noted that there are a number of provisions, such as in the Criminal Procedure Act, the National Environmental Management Act and the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development, which make provisions for the prosecution of a company and its directors found guilty of pollution in their private capacity. Liefferink also wants the Court to investigate the financial impacts upon the affected parties, according to article 34(3) of Act 107 of 1998 which states that if the alleged polluters are found guilty, an appropriate compensation order can be made. She furthermore requests that the Court orders the alleged polluters to remediate the degraded and polluted areas and to declare them incapable to acquire a mining right.
Durban Roodepoort Deep’s (DRD) Blyvooruitzicht Gold Mining Company and the operator, Village Main Reef, are stated by Liefferink as the alleged perpetrators. DRD’s chief executive officer is Mr. Niel Pretorius.
“As a result of the shameful record of the mining industry, reported by the news media and the mining industry’s pollution record and failure to comply with Environmental Management Programme Reports, it is necessary to call offending mining companies to account. It has become overwhelmingly evident that the organs of state whose duty and mandate it is to regulate the mining industry and to enforce environmental contraventions, have failed. The failure of the relevant organs of state to enforce environmental infractions and to prosecute polluters necessitates that I now lay these charges and request that justice be done,” Liefferink stated in her affidavit to the police, a copy of which was also given to the Herald.
The Herald has been reporting for some time about pollution that can be linked to Blyvoor, such as the recent slimes spill next to the P111 road near the mine. According to Liefferink, she received excellent service from the Carletonville detectives who assisted her to open the case. They set an example from which the police in other towns can learn,” Liefferink told the Herald.