The Msunduzi Municipality Mayor, Mzimkhulu Thebolla says a case of arson has been opened with the police after a fire ravaged the New England Road landfill site.
The blaze at the landfill site in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal had raged for almost a week, causing residents to complain over the thick smoke and fumes blanketing parts of the city.
The fire forced several schools to close.
Thebolla says the blaze is now almost completely extinguished.
He says, “Let me humbly apologise to residents of Msunduzi. The fire has taken almost a week but we have contained it now. We demobilised fire-fighters because there are just a few patches around the landfill site because our team can deal with it. It’s not a normal fire. We believe it is arson and a case has been opened with SAPS. Somebody deliberately started that fire.”
Three MECs to deal with Msunduzi fire
On Monday, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala assigned three MECs to ensure that the smoldering fire at a landfill site in the Msunduzi Municipality in Pietermaritzburg is extinguished.
Zikalala said they hope to find a lasting solution for the problem.
“We wish to express our deep concern about the situation that has developed in uMsunduzi Municipality, where smoke from the burning dumpsite has polluted the entire area and is posing a health risk to the residents. In this period when we are dealing with a crisis like COVID-19, we do not want our people to get sick and occupy hospital beds due to avoidable causes of illness. This is a matter we are attending with a deep sense of urgency. We believe that the time has come for its permanent resolution.”
#KZN_Fire_Alert: Fire 1: (DAY 3) Richmond Team dispatched to the Msunduzi Landfill Site Fire. Fire 2: Normandien 1 Team assisting at Koningsburg Plantation #NB Firefighters at the Msunduzi Landfill Sirte are working under toxic fumes please keep them in your prayers.? pic.twitter.com/el6dbeQQCr
— Working on Fire (@wo_fire) July 23, 2020
Residents complain about blaze on Twitter:
In Pietermaritzburg/ Msunduzi, the landfill site has been on fire since Monday. The city is engulfed in smoke and toxins. Pets moved indoors as the fumes are still terrible outside.
Will someone be held accountable?@kzngov @Richard_Spoor pic.twitter.com/6z3sELAjLr
— Chrisjan van Aardt (@cvanaardt) July 22, 2020
An entire city in South Africa (Msunduzi) or Pietermaritzburg cannot breathe due to a fire that has been raging at a landfill dump. Situation caused by municipal indifference and ineptitude. Is it time for a rates boycott to shake up those greedy, short-sighted politicians?
— Marilyn Keegan (@MLKeegan) July 24, 2020
Dear Msunduzi Municipality.
What is the story about the landfill site fire and smoke? We cannot live like this. Whole week of breathing this toxic smoke is no good.
— Sibusiso Sithole (@scsithole) July 25, 2020