‘We live with constant stench here, like pigs’ – Emfuleni residents

The SANDF unit deployed to clean the sewage spillage at the Vaal Dam and greater Emfuleni Local Municipality will be leaving at the end of the month, citing lack of funds to cover this extensive project. The clean-up was projected to cost over R1billion.

In January, members of the SANDF stationed in Emfuleni were forced to halt their operations to improve water infrastructure a month after their arrival, when the R350 million set aside for the clean-up project was depleted. They requested a further R240m to keep the project operational until June, but this did not materialise.

SANDF spokesperson Colonel Andries Mahapa said: “According to the mandate, the operation was until October 31 this year. We requested an extension to December but are still waiting for approval.”

Residents complained that the presence of the SANDF had not changed their situation and that raw sewage still flowed into their homes and on to streets, also contaminating fish in streams feeding into the Vaal River.

Boipatong resident Thembi Mbekwa said: “The stench of the sewage has been with us for years and the municipality is not helping us. The SANDF tried to fix the pipes but nothing has changed.”

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