Mpuma to tackle water crimes

Friday, November 20, 2009

Malalane - The Mpumalanga Department of Water Affairs is to launch a water compliance, monitoring and enforcement campaign in Malalane to help deal with the province's water crimes.

The campaign, which will be launched on Monday, is themed "Blow the whistle on water crimes".

It follows a visit by former Water Affairs Minister Lindiwe Hendricks last year during which she warned the province against non-compliance with the National Water Act.

"She issued directives and a different approach to regulation has to be pursued by the region," said Mpumalanga's regional director of water affairs, Fanyana Mntambo.

Last year, Hendricks visited several farms where farmers were diverting water illegally.

Hendricks at the time warned them that they would get heavy fines for disturbing the flow of rivers and polluting water with chemicals used on their farms.

Mntambo said the region had identified challenges in prosecuting water offenses as criminal cases, instead of just handing out fines.

He said a lack of awareness and an understanding of offences as set out by the National Water Act among police officials and investigating officers was affecting the department negatively.

Some public prosecutors also did not have a proper understanding of water legislation, he added.

Mntambo said the poor profiling of departmental initiatives against offenders presented another uphill battle.

"We have to blow the whistle and act harshly against those who commit water crimes to save this scarce resource."