ARMOUR      Action for Responsible Management of our Rivers

A Voice for Water

News Articles

Mogale's Silent Assassin  

Jan Brandt, February 8, 2018

Borehole water test results confirm sewage leaks contaminate underground water around Pinehaven in Mogale.  Resident Jan Brandt is fighting against official apathy as the disaster spreads.                                                                                                  

“Following concerns raised by Mogale residents as to the quality of the water from their boreholes in the area close to the Pinehaven raw sewage pump stations where numerous spillages occurred, the DA claimed that this type of contamination is impossible. The DA went further and said that they will be testing water and take action if more residents come forward with complaints.  - November 16, 2017. Despite the area being within Ward 39, a long time DA ward, the DA took no further action. 

Three samples showing contaminated water were taken close to the Pinehaven pump station and close to the wetlands downstream from Pinehaven and the Steynsvlei dam.

The E coli and coliform levels in these samples were dangerously far outside the National Water specification limits, in fact the most probable number of coliforms for one sample is of the same order as those of the surface waters. If there were underground sources of contamination in the area, then SPL 1 and SPL 3 would have indicated it.

Secondly, it is unlikely that boreholes will be contaminated by one isolated spillage from the pump stations, except if the spilled raw sewage is allowed to flow into the boreholes. Seeing that as long ago as 2005 judgment was given against Mogale City Local Municipality (Case 2005/2412 -WLD) and a number of references on record where Mogale City reflected on the serious problems in the Muldersdrift area resulting from the lack of infrastructure, nobody in his right mind would buy the explanations offered by the DA.

As to the seven sample results on the surface water, without exception, these results speak for themselves. As we are dealing with an invisible entity, residents do not necessarily connect their ailments to water contamination, especially as they are conditioned to thinking around treated drinking water from sources such as Rand Water. What is not taken into account, is the contact with contaminated surface water, be it from drinking (also by animals), swimming, washing, laundering or irrigating crops with it.

 For the DA and indeed Mogale City Local Municipality, in the north-west quadrant of the Witwatersrand, specifically the bigger Pinehaven node inclusive of Steynsvlei, Northvale and Heuningklip, kicking the can down the road, did not work and we have now run out of road.

Neither known nor appreciated, malfeasance, dysfunctionality, incompetence or some combination thereof, created the presence of a silent assassin. This invisible, but potentially deadly entity, in the form of life-threatening bacteria and pathogens, could well have and be generating huge costs for the community through infections, hospital and medical bills, immediate and long-term health problems and the diminution of property values.


In this process, the values enshrined in the South African Constitution have been ignored and nullified, including the right of community engagement and the right to a remedy. It is so sad that despite numerous studies and reports which adequately identified potential issues in the region and professionally recommended action, the problem was allowed to escalate to the life-threatening consequences now being faced.” 

A Re Sebetseng - Mayor's Clean Up Campaign

Feedback Report, John du Plessis, Created: November 04, 2017 

ARMOUR commends and supports the campaign by Johannesburg Mayor to clean up the city !!

Litter is the blight of Gauteng's rivers. Litter deposited in the streets of the city accumulates during the dry season and then with the first rain and floods gets washed into the river systems. River clean up campaigns such as Spruitday have found computer and electronic equipment, clothing, mattresses, cables and cable casing from electricity and telecomms companies and of course millions of plastic bags.

A Re Sebetseng creates an opportunity to clean up rubbish before it enters the river systems. ARMOUR met Mayor Herman Mashaba at the latest clean-up and presented him with the ARMOUR brochure while updating him on our mission and objectives. The mayor expressed his support for the work being done by ARMOUR

We also strongly commend Kenya for banning plastic bags entirely.

The "Last Straw" campaign aims to eliminate the use of plastic straws.

Plastics take between 500 to 1,000 years to break down, also enter the human food chain through fish and other animals. Many bags drift into the ocean, strangling turtles, suffocating seabirds and filling the stomachs of dolphins and whales with waste until they die of starvation.

Mayor Receives ARMOUR brochure from John duP

A Day's catch from the river banks

Braamfonteinspruit after flood

Klein Jukskei after flood

Update on Jukskei (Alexandra) Rehabilitation project

John du Plessis,  Issued 25 September 2017

The City of Joburg (CoJ) has commenced with planned upgrades on the Upper Jukskei River, with the latest CoJ budget making R5 million available for this project, for the establishment of a greenbelt park in Alexandra. Area rehabilitation experts Plantwise were appointed to construct the park, which started with the stabilisation of the river banks, planting indigenous trees and installing playground equipment, as well as building a 5-a-side indoor football court, an outdoor (tennis?) court and a cycle path. The results are truly excellent! 

Plantwise Site Manager - Riaan

Bank stabilisation using gabions

Indoor 5 a side soccer 

Park and cycle path

Unfortunately, the Jukskei River itself and the river bank opposite the development is in a sorry state. The banks are eroded, illegal dumping threatens previous stabilisation and the river is littered and foul with sewerage.

Eroded and unstable banks

Illegal dumping into the river

Sewerage and litter fouls the river

Mr Pule Makena of City Parks hopes that the residents will use and take ownership of the new park facilities and that in turn, this will encourage a sense of pride that leads to a clean-up of this section of the Jukskei.

Further upgrades are planned for other sites on the Jukskei River, but are constrained by the available budgets. This is an opportunity for private companies and individuals to come together and assist in  addressing the problems. 

Come on Joburg let's work together to fix the Jukskei and make it a living resource !

50 000 litres of sewage flow into SA's rivers every second

M&G article:  Sipho Kings  21 Jul 2017  

South Africa’s municipal sewage system has largely collapsed. Of the 824 treatment plants, maybe only 60 release clean water.

Raw or partially treated sewage flows into rivers throughout the country, turning dams green and killing people who drink the polluted water. From big metros such as Johannesburg to towns like Villiers in the Free State, what is flushed down the toilet either escapes out of broken pipes or from the plants meant to treat it back to safe quality.

Read More

Hyacinth in Hartebeespoort Dam

Comment from Anthony Duigan, ARMOUR Chairman,  on 50/50 Programme, Created: Jul 24, 2017 

Thank you for the programme last night highlighting the growing crisis in Hartbeespoort Dam from the impact of the water hyacinth stimulated by the ingress of nitrates and phosphates from upstream waste water treatment works.  As noted by the presenter, what we see in the dam is the result of what is not being properly managed in Johannesburg, Mogale, Ekurhuleni and Pretoria.  That, of course, is the dozen or so sewerage works that decant into the various rivers that ultimately flow into the Crocodile River upstream of the Dam.  Unfortunately, the spokesman for the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) simply underlined their inability to do anything constructive to deal with the situation.

Read More

Mogale City: Erge Besoedelings- en Gesondheidsprobleme

Created: 28 July 2017 

Photo supplied by TripAdvisor

The Crocodile River tumbles down a beautiful waterfall into the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens, visited and enjoyed by thousands of people every year. Several sewage leaks into the upper reaches of the river have been reported.  As the river ignores municipal boundaries and runs through both Joburg and Mogale municipalities, it complicated matters as to who is responsible for maintenance.  ARMOUR contacted the Sewer Network Manager of  Joburg Water, who provided a contact in Mogale's Wastewater Network department, as well as tasking his own officials with fixing the Joburg leaks. 

With the involvement of the Roodepoort Neighbourhood Watch and local Councillors several leaks have been fixed on both the Mogale and the Joburg side.  A check will be done on the more inaccessible areas of the kloof above the waterfall and Joburg Water has promised to follow up.

Further,  raw sewage has been flowing for months around Pinehaven, the Pinehaven Hospital and not far from Cradlestone Mall and the Silverstar Casino,into the Crocodile/ Limpopo water catchment area through Steynsvlei on its way to Hartebeespoort dam. ARMOUR is currently investigating.

Download report.


Draft Mine Water Management Policy Drawn Up

Department of Water and Sanitation, Issued 10 July 2017

The Draft Mine Water Management Policy has been published in Government Gazette 40965 for comment.The water and sanitation department drew up the draft policy to set down its position on mine water management including acid mine drainage (AMD).The proposed policy also aims to provide measures on protection of water resources from prospective, operational and historical mine activities that have negative impact on water quality.The draft policy focuses on integrated approaches to mining closure, apportionment of liabilities, optimum use of appropriate and cost-effective technology, classification and differentiation of mines, promotion of sustainable mining development, user commitment to sustainable water resource protection, environmental vigilance and continuous improvement, institutional arrangements on infrastructure management/transfer after mine closure and reuse of treated mine water, including AMD.Some of the policy principles include the need for a legislative provision on institutional arrangements of infrastructure management/ transfer post mine closure to ensure proper transfer, the development of a national mine water strategy, the application of the polluter pays principle to mine water in all its forms and strengthening of policy to differentiate between the different categories of mines.The draft policy emphasizes that the mine water problem will not be solved by a single intervention but will require the integrated implementation of a range of measures including considering using treated mine water for operations and/or providing it to municipal networks “which should be led by pragmatic and progressive policies and legislations”.Sabinet Cape Town Office

Environmental Authorisation: Jukskei (Alexandra) Rehabilitation project

Maragela Consulting Engineers,  Issued 30 March 2017

GDARD has granted COJ environmental authorisation for the Jukskei River Rehabilitation Project. In summary the remediation measures proposed at 14 sites across the Jukskei from Atholl to Waterval  on the Modderspruit and Jukskei include :

  • General clean up, litter removal and waste baskets
  • Removal of illegal dumping
  • Alien vegetation removal and replanting indigenous
  • Dredging of silted areas
  • Erosion prevention and Slope stabilisation
  • Removal of unrequired weirs and fishways where these are retained
  • Litter traps at selected places
  • Wetlands at selected places

The Masterplan for the Jukskei, although not fully incorporated in the work at hand, provides a long term objectives and vision.

See COJ Presentation