Following an investigation into the deterioration and current state of the New England Road Landfill Site where several fires have emanated engulfing the city of Pietermaritzburg, the South African Human Rights Commission (“the SAHRC”) instituted an urgent application in the Pietermaritzburg High Court against the Msunduzi Municipality. The matter was set down before the Honourable Judge R Vahed on 11 December 2020 and the First Respondent (Msunduzi Municipality) and the Second Respondent HOD: Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs) were ordered to file their respective opposing/answering affidavits by 19 February 2021 with the Applicant to file its replying affidavit by 10 February 2021.

Whilst both the Head of Department and MEC for the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Second and Third Respondents respectively) have filed Notices to Abide by the decision of the Honourable Court, the Msunduzi Municipality (First Respondent) has to date regretfully not filed their opposing/answering affidavit as per the court order dated 11 December 2020. The Third Respondent is also expected to file an explanatory affidavit by 03 February 2021.

Following consultations with its Counsel and legal representatives, the SAHRC has proceeded to have the matter set down for hearing on 15 February 2021 at 09h30.

The SAHRC remains deeply concerned with the state of the site and its prejudicial impact on the environment, public health and the human dignity of all persons affected.

The various challenges that have plagued the landfill site over the years have attributed to the outbreak of fires and the emission of strong toxic fumes which continue to pose severe threats to the sustainability of the environment and to the health and well-being of residents in both the local and surrounding communities.

The SAHRC therefore remains committed to ensuring that all necessary steps and/or measures are identified and implemented in order to remedy the situation and to minimise any further threats to the environment and to the health and well-being of the local communities.

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