Environmentalists predict that last week’s oil spillage into Umsunduzi and Umngeni Rivers in KwaZulu-Natal will have long term devastating effects.

Tons of vegetable oil and caustic soda spilled into Baynespruit then to the rivers killing fish and other aquatic life.

Environmentalists are calling the spill the biggest environmental crisis to hit the area. They say the spillage will have long term effects which can disrupt next year’s Dusi Canoe Marathon.

Dusi Umngeni Conversation Trust Pollution Control Officer,  Sanele Vilakazi says “There is no life in this water, no oxygen so people must not use it.”

Bobby Peek from Ground Work says, “This is an ecological disaster because of the regulatory failure government has failed the people, government doesn’t have systems to deal with environmental disasters.”

Communities living next to the rivers rely on water from these rivers for domestic use.

Bongekile Mtolo lives at Madiba informational settlement outside Pietermaritzburg; she is one of many people affected by the oil spillage. People in the area use water from Baynespruit as they don’t have taps in their homes.

Mtolo is concerned about children who cross the Baynespruit to school, “This is not the first time this kind of oil spill to our water but this time it’s very bad we don’t know what we going to do.”

Another resident Lindeni  Mbhele says, “Now we go to those who have taps for water, some they refuse and others give used water.  Life is not easy for us.”

Calls are being made for stricter by-laws to avert tragedies such as these.

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