Key municipalities have been fingered as major polluters in the Vaal River; among them is the City of Johannesburg.

This emerged at the Human Rights Commission inquiry into the Vaal River pollution.

Samson Mokoena from the Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance says a number of industries, companies and municipalities have contributed to pollution levels; and not just the Emfuleni local Municipality.

Addressing the commission, Mokoena says the Vaal River pollution crisis could have been avoided if authorities had taken action when activists and environmentalists warned them of the impending disaster more than a decade ago.

“There’s a lack of enforcement at the department of water affairs and sanitation because remember, they are the custodians of our water resources and they’re the ones issuing these multiple polluters with licences.”

Civil rights groups want harsh penalties for polluters.

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