The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) is calling on the South African Human Rights Commission to further investigate the Sedibeng Regional Sanitation Scheme.

The organisation made a written submission to the SAHRC’s inquiry into the pollution of the Vaal River, noting that while the project was initiated by the Emfuleni Local Municipality it was later handed over to Rand Water as the implementing agent.

Outa has requested that the SAHRC look into how this transfer of responsibility may have contributed to the pollution of the Vaal.

“Outa’s submission is intended to aid the Commission in its inquiry into whether the state of the Vaal River violates or threatens human rights including environmental rights in terms of section 24 of the Constitution,” says Yamkela Ntola, Outa’s Water and Environment Portfolio Manager.

Outa said it has drawn the Commission’s attention to the fact that the national Department of Water and Sanitation stopped the project, which aimed to expand the capacity of the waste-water treatment plants in Sebokeng and Meyerton, from being implemented by Emfuleni Local Municipality in 2012 and put in place Rand Water as the implementing agent.

The organisation is this looking to the commission to Outa thus recommends that the Commission assesses the legality of the suspension and transfer of the project, how the removal of the scheme from Emfuleni and other relevant municipalities adversely affected the operation and maintenance of sewerage networks, particularly those networks that contribute to pollution in the Vaal, and request audited and verified reports from Rand Water on the progress of the scheme with an indication of the extent to which such progress has reduced pollution in the Vaal.