Members of SDCEA and UAPWD together with local communities picketing outside a paper mill operating in the area

The South Durban community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) in collaboration with the UMkomaas Anti-Pollution Watch Dogs (UAPWD) embarked on an environmental awareness picket demonstration outside Sappi Saiccor paper Mill main gate in uMkomaas on the Thursday, 28 June.

Bongani Mthembu (SDCEA), Thulani Gumede (Sappi Saccor) and a translator from Sappi Saiccor signing the memorandum against pollution

With the aim to fight industrial pollution, the purpose of the picket was to highlight the health and environmental impact caused by a multinational paper mill operating in the area.

According to SDCEA the communities of uMkomaas, Magabheni, Rosenerth, Amahlongwa, Drift and surrounding areas took this opportunity to express their dismay at the paper mill’s management and their disregard for the above mentioned communities, as the company continues to pollute without any consideration on the implications to people’s health.

“Two organisations; uMkomaas Anti-Pollution Watch Dogs (UAPWD) and the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) have over the years found that there has been a growing concern on the health of the residents in the area especially because of the way the mill continues to pollute without any consideration to the communities,” said Desmond D’Sa the Office Coordinator at SDCEA.

According to D’Sa, both organisations believe that the paper mill is being given free rein in the city to pollute as they wish without any monitoring on their toxic emissions from the local authorities.

“Some of the negative and harmful effects that the company has had on the communities is; the dumping of toxic chemicals that impact upon the health of the local communities and workers, lack of transparency over incidents concerning workers being injured or killed as well as the continuous violation of permit conditions that result in dumping of toxic chemicals on their fence line neighbours which create health problems like cancer, asthma and leukemia and other related illnesses,” said D’Sa.

The continued chemical pollution is a serious concern to the local communities of South Durban and the South Coast. SDCEA and UAPWD handed over a memorandum with their list of demands to the paper mill which was later signed by Thulani Gumede one of the HOD’s from Sappi Saiccor.