20 August 2018
The plight of waste reclaimers is a matter of great concern for the South African waste management industry and for government authorities tasked with the safe and responsible disposal of waste.
While we sympathize with the plight of the waste reclaimers, it is important to note that the Special Assignment episode aired on 19 August on SABC 3 failed to sufficiently highlight the crucial aspect of the outbreak of violence that we have been dealing with over the past few years, including escalating gun-related violence on site between the waste reclaimers. As a result, Averda has had no alternative than to approach the Johannesburg High Court for urgent interdictory relief to resolve the untenable and unsafe situation that has developed and posing a safety risk to all parties accessing the site, including the waste reclaimers themselves (albeit unlawfully).
The interim interdict granted by the Johannesburg High Court authorised the Sheriff to leverage the support of private and government law enforcement entities to evict unlawful trespassers from the site. It is important to note, that Averda does not in any way condone allegations of violence actions taken against the waste reclaimers.
In addition to the major safety aspect, we do believe that the landfill environment is not a suitable place for people to pick from taking into consideration the health risks that waste reclaimers may be exposed to without having the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
It also needs to be mentioned that it is well within Averda’s rights as a law abiding corporate entity to operate its business without disruption, violent acts and the intimidation of its employees and clients. Averda also has an obligation to ensure compliance with the regulations handed down by the various regulatory bodies such as the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWA).
Averda operates within; and adheres only to the laws of South Africa in the way that it conducts its business. We are bound by South African law to operate all our landfill sites in full compliance with the National Waste Management Act (NEMA) to ensure the safe disposal of waste products in the appropriate manner and the Genesis landfill is licensed by the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
While we hope for a speedy and peaceful resolution in the best interest of all parties concerned, the allegations made in the Special Assignment programme on Sunday evening, 19 August are currently the subject of a legal matter set to be brought before the court on 15 October 2018, preventing us from providing further comment at this time.