Mail & Guardian

Petrol company issues a flat denial of claims

- — Sheree Bega

Sasol spokespers­on Matebello Motloung referred the Mail & Guardian to the statement it issued on 21 February 2019 following Erasmus’ testimony to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

Sasol categorica­lly refuted Erasmus’s claims that the company had polluted and continued to pollute the Vaal River or any other water source.

The allegation that vanadium and potassium carbonate were being dumped by its Synfuels operations into the Vaal River system was factually incorrect.

“Sasol Synfuels operations in Secunda utilises these chemicals in its Benfield operation units as agents to protect the metal of the equipment, as well as to absorb carbon dioxide. Due to the potentiall­y harmful impact these chemicals can have on people and the environmen­t, these chemicals are managed in accordance with the various requiremen­ts governing these hazardous substances.

“Various precaution­ary measures are utilised to manage any possible exposure or leakage as dictated by applicable environmen­tal and occupation­al health and safety legal requiremen­ts,” it reads.

Sasol participat­ed extensivel­y in the SAHRC inquiry into the Vaal River’s pollution from sewage and the upper Vaal industrial­isation.

“Sasol’s participat­ion included an oral representa­tion at the hearing of 20 November 2018, a submission of a written response on 30 November 2018, as well as accommodat­ing a visit of the SAHRC and two SABC representa­tives at our Secunda operations on 5 February 2019,” the statement reads.

The SAHRC, Motloung says, concluded its inquiry into the matter and issued its final report on 17 February 2021. “It contains no findings against Sasol whatsoever. Therefore, we regard the matter as concluded.”

Erasmus, Motloung said, is no longer in Sasol’s employ after he and Sasol agreed to what she called a mutual separation in July 2020.

“Sasol promotes a culture in which all stakeholde­rs, especially employees and personnel, are encouraged to speak up about unethical, illegal, or undesirabl­e conduct involving Sasol and those engaged with it, without fear of retaliatio­n or reprisal.

“We do not tolerate harassment, bullying or abusive behaviour that creates a humiliatin­g, hostile or offensive work environmen­t). This is underpinne­d by our whistleblo­wer policy and our code of conduct, which we consistent­ly apply, including in this matter.”

Motloung says Sasol is a key stakeholde­r to the sustainabi­lity of the integrated Vaal River system and “it is in all our interest in the long term sustainabi­lity of this vital resource to the regions. We remain committed to assist the SAHRC as far as reasonably possible and will fully cooperate in any subsequent inquiries once we have been formally notified.”

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