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THE Minister of Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane on Friday addressed traditional leaders in Durban during a stakeholder engagement meeting on unlawful water use through sand mining.
Mokonyane said, ‘As a country, we need to proactively root out unlawful water use, non-compliance to water use authorisation and water losses and leaks.
‘Abiding by the law and authorisations will assist in achieving our vision of equitable and sustainable water use.’
The meeting with the traditional leaders was to improve the understanding of the impacts on unlawful water use through sand mining.
It also informed the traditional leaders on legal issues around sand mining activities and also the need to to get buy-in from the local communities.
Permission granted illegally
It has been found that community leaders are giving permission to sand miners in rivers without obtaining the necessary environmental authorisations.
Sand mining is a lucrative age-old business that involves excavating sand from the riverbanks.
This leads to an excess of problems, including diverting the river’s natural flow, increased evaporation and soil erosion.
Mokonyane said the department will ensure good relationships with traditional leaders are maintained so that sand and gravel are mined in a sustainable way.
KZN is currently facing unlawful water use activities through sand mining in the Illovo, Umzumbe, uMthwalume, UMvoti, Buffalo, uMdloti, Amatikulu, uMhlathuze, Umfolozi and uMgeni Rivers.
Unlawful water use through sand mining activities is causing numerous and serious problems such as the disruption in potable water supply and pollution of water resources.
The DWS has implemented law enforcement actions with other relevant authorities including district and local municipalities, National Prosecuting Authority, Department of Mineral Resources, Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs and the South African Police Services.
While the department continues to enforce the stopping of unlawful water use activities through various means including administrative actions, opening of criminal cases and application of court interdicts, it has noted that the perpetrators disregard these enforcement actions and continue to benefit millions of rands by selling the river sand to construction and hardware companies.
Mokonyane called on traditional leaders to participate in door-to-door awareness campaigns in affected communities and to work with the department on identifying illegal sand mining and report such transgressors.