The Department of Water & Sanitation is taking the Chris Hani district municipality to court over its mismanagement of Cradock’s sewerage system, according to a Weekend Post report.

The department confirmed its position last week as the latest news of the crisis in the Karoo town emerged, with the treatment works at a standstill and raw sewage running down streets and spewing into the Great Fish River.

Sputnik Ratau, spokesperson for the Department of Water & Sanitation, said the department was determined to hold the district municipality accountable for its role in managing Cradock’s wastewater treatment works and sewerage system. ‘We have lodged court papers against them and now await a court date.’

Pressed on how that would alleviate the immediate crisis, he said the hope was that the district municipality would still do the right thing. The court action follows on a series of notices and directives issued over the past year by the department, related to non-compliance on the same issue by Chris Hani district municipality, notes the report.

DA Eastern Cape Midlands leader Retief Odendaal – who sounded the alarm in mid-June when the treatment plant first shut down, and who has since opened a criminal case against Chris Hani district municipality acting municipal manager Bhekisisa Mthembu – said he welcomed the intervention by the department.

‘We feel it’s long overdue and we would have preferred if they had been proactive – but it’s a firm and positive step.'

Inxuba Yethemba municipal manager Xolela Msweli said the local authority had called on the district municipality to tackle the crisis and to ‘restore public confidence’.

Full Weekend Post report (subscription needed)