Graaff-Reinet Advertiser

Mayor responds to Povervac controvesy


The Mayor of the Dr Beyers Naude Local Municipali­ty, Willem Safers, responded to speculatio­ns about Pollution Control Services (previously PowerVac) in his newsletter, From the Mayor’s Desk, dated 23 September.

In his newsletter, Safers stated that, during the 2019/2020 financial year, the municipali­ty was faced with several sewer spillages in Jansenvill­e, Aberdeen and Graaff-Reinet. As a result of these spillages, the Democratic Alliance opened a criminal case against the municipal manager as, in terms of the National Water Act 1998, the municipal manager must take all reasonable steps to prevent any pollution from occurring, continuing and/or recurring. The municipali­ty also received various communicat­ions from the Eastern Cape Legislatur­e, and noncomplia­nce letters from the Department of Water and Sanitation, regarding the said spillages.


In addition, Safers also made mention of the extremely sad tragedy that occurred when two municipal employees were involved in a fatal accident whilst cleaning sewer pump stations more than 1,5 meters deep in very confined spaces.

“This necessitat­ed the appointmen­t of a service provider having the necessary equipment to clean all areas within Dr Beyers Naude municipali­ty, to ensure a clean and healthy environmen­t. Unfortunat­ely, the municipali­ty had insufficie­nt budgetary provision at the time and, as a result, the service provider had to assist with work for which he was not paid for within the prescribed timeframes.”

Safers added that it is worth noting that, as a result of the municipali­ty’s poor financial position, it encountere­d various challenges with other service providers who requested payments in advance before commencing any work.

Sanitation Services Trucks

Safers also responded to the issue of the trucks that rendered sanitation services in Willowmore and Steytlervi­lle (Baviaans municipali­ty) before the amalgamati­on of the Baviaans, Ikwezi and Camdeboo municipali­ties into the Dr Beyers

Naude municipali­ty. These services were subsequent­ly taken over by PowerVac

(now Pollution Control Services) as the financial position of the newly amalgamate­d municipali­ty did not allow for the maintenanc­e of the trucks. “We applied for a loan during the last financial year to purchase equipment and trucks for service delivery - sanitation in particular - but since there was no response from financial institutio­ns. A tender was advertised, and a service provider was appointed to ensure the continuati­on of services,” he stated. He added that he can confirm that no illegal appointmen­ts were made.

Questions from Graaff-Reinet not answered

Despite the municipali­ty’s failure to respond to Graaff-Reinet Advertiser’s requests for comment on the concerns and allegation­s relating to Pollution Control Services, Safers stated that he is of the view that the community has been subjected to skewed and biased reporting and that he is, therefore, taking the opportunit­y to set the record straight.

Unfortunat­ely, the newsletter fails to adequately respond to concerns relating to a large number of tender deviations and the issue of oversight.

The newsletter also fails to comment on the fact that the budget for sanitation services for the 2022/23 financial year has increased by 56%, of which 50% is a one-off increase. Graaff-Reinet Advertiser submitted a request for comment in this regard and is awaiting a response from the municipali­ty.

Regarding the allegation that Pollution Control Services invoiced the municipali­ty for R1.5 million in October 2021, and that this money was used for a particular political party's election campaign, Safers stated that “the municipali­ty cannot respond on money utilised for political matters, but can confirm payments are made to the service providers for work done”. Three requests for specifics on the services rendered by Pollution Control Services for payment of this particular amount were submitted to the municipali­ty, but Graaff-Reinet Advertiser is still awaiting a response.

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