The top management from waste management company , Enviroserv has appeared in the Durban Magistrate’s Court. Enviroserv CEO Dean Thompson, operations manager Clive Kidd, technical director Esme Gombault and treatment and disposal specialist Johan Schoonrad are being charged for the stench emanating from the Shongweni landfill site.
Their charges include contravening the National Environmental Air Quality Act and the National Environmental Waste Management Act.There was not a spare seat in court as Enviroserv’s top management made another appearance. The courtroom was packed with mainly Enviroserv employees and concerned Upper Highway residents.The site was closed in April this year. The Environmental Affairs Department discovered that the company had failed to comply with the law and conditions of their waste management license.
In court, the state informed the defence that they had amended the charge sheet. Meanwhile, outside court community members from the Upper Highway Air group protested peacefully.
The group’s Lauren Johnson says despite the landfill’s closure, the noxious stench remains.“ It still stinks. Full stop. We’re not going to stop until the stink goes away. We have had favourable winds over the winter period. But, given the rains that are coming and the change of winds recently it has been as often, as intense. We still have our online reporting system as well as our app. I think the last time I looked we were sitting on 8 and a half, 9 thousand complaints just for November alone.”
Jenny Geevers lives in Winston Park, about four kilometers from the site. She has two children and two dogs. She says her entire family remains affected.“It hits our home. It’s like petrol and rotting matter all at one time. Your eyes burn, your lips burn, your face and skin burns. You cough, it’s like you’re being suffocated. My son and daughter get quite violent headaches. My daughter gets nauseous and vomiting. The dogs will sneeze and cough. You just feel like you can’t breathe.”
Similarly, Romeo Kaunda, says he’s experienced body pains and aches. “Sometimes every morning when you wake up you feel pain. Depends when the wind blows in which area. Sometimes you feel like you have been working so hard but you are not working. Sometimes in the evening you can’t sleep properly. I’m an old person and my body’s just sore. Ive never experienced that before.”
The matter was adjourned to next year to allow the defence time to examine the amended charge sheet and further details that the state has now provided