#ENVIRONMENTALLAW: …New waste by-law calls for impounding of illegal dumpers

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The City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee has proposed and approved an amendment to the Integrated Waste Management By-law that would allow for the impoundment of vehicles used in illegal dumping, in a bid to strengthen its arsenal against illegal dumping, which costs ratepayers millions of Rands every year.

Should the full Council approve the amendment later this week, it will pave the way for its promulgation and the city’s law enforcement agencies will be able to seize, without a warrant, a vehicle that is suspected of or on reasonable grounds believed to be involved in illegal dumping.

The seized and impounded vehicle will only be released under the following scenarios:

  • If a criminal charge is not laid or no fine is issued within 48 hours of its seizure;
  • in the event that the criminal charges against the individual have been withdrawn; or
  • the individual has been acquitted of the charged offence

The court may furthermore declare that such a vehicle (any vehicle used in connection with the commission of an offence under the by-law) be forfeited to the State, provided that this would not affect the rights of any person (other than the convicted individual) to the vehicle.

Individuals found guilty of using their vehicle for illegal dumping, with that vehicle having been seized and impounded, will need to pay a tariff for its release, the value of which will increase for the first three offences. A guilty party will have to fork out R7,500 to have the vehicle released for the first offence, R10,000 for the second, and R15,000 for the third. Each subsequent impoundment fee will have a value of R15,000. This will be the case unless ordered otherwise by the court.

“The City spends around R350 million annually in its efforts to keep pace with the volumes of illegally dumped waste that appear across Cape Town. It is essential that the City be afforded the channels and support necessary in order to address this ongoing damage to our environmental health and unacceptable drain on our funds. Illegal dumpers across the city are collectively playing their part in depriving communities of services and infrastructure that could be put in place with that amount of money, such as sports facilities or social welfare programmes. Instead, those funds are used to clean up after a few selfish residents,” said the city’s mayoral committee member for utility services, Councillor Ernest Sonnenberg.

Adding to crackdown moves
This amendment is the latest move in the City’s fight against this practice. Last year the City’s Executive Mayor, Patricia de Lille, launched a crackdown on illegal dumping which saw a weeklong blitz each month, involving various departments. All role players worked together, intensifying efforts to catch illegal dumpers red-handed and issue fines.

“The City provides a reliable refuse collection service 365 days a year. With 24 drop-off facilities across the city that accept various waste materials in volumes of up to 1.5 tonnes three times a day, there is no excuse for dumping waste illegally in suburbs and next to roads. Those who dump illegally take a deliberate decision not to make use of the drop-off facilities. It is high time that the law-abiding residents of the city stop suffering the consequences of decisions made by those who refuse to dispose of their waste in a safe and legal way. In order for this to change though, we need the help of residents in reporting offenders,” added Councillor Sonnenberg.

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