Wed, 19 Jun 2019

The number of South African National Defence Force (SANDF) specialised engineers deployed to find solutions to the contamination of the Vaal River, has been increased to just over 300 - up from 200 initially.

Untreated waste has been making its way into the river, causing blocked drains and flowing into the local community's homes and streets.

READ: SANDF pulls out all the stops to tackle Vaal River contamination

But, according to SANDF spokesperson Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi, the troops who arrived in November have made progress.

"The engineers have so far managed to clean all the water pumps which were meant to be cleaned by now, and we are pleased with the progress," Mafi said.

"The engineers are working closely with other suppliers in the area and I will be visiting them on Thursday to be let [them] in on the progress and immediate plans [for] other projects in the pipeline," Mafi committed.

READ MORE: Vaal River pollution: 'There have been challenges to compliance', Sasol says

Mafi added that the defence force wanted to accomplish its mission by December 2019 and said it would do everything necessary to make sure that the process was completed by the deadline date.

"We have also deployed troops who are guarding all our workspaces as precautionary measures, so that we are not set back on our mission," Mafi said.

The Emfuleni Local Municipality failed to refurbish water treatment facilities and repair damaged infrastructure, which caused raw sewage to flow into people's homes.

Some residents claimed the foul smell in the area made them sick and they demanded urgent attention.

The situation prompted the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to establish an inquiry to determine whether the spillage amounted to an infringement of basic human rights.

The municipality has since been placed under administration and the mayor, Jacob Khawe, resigned on Thursday.

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