Chitown sued over dumpsite death
THE Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has taken Chitungwiza Municipality to court for allegedly permitting a local company to dump hazardous waste at Chigumba Stands dumpsite after a child died from severe burns.
The applicants in the matter, Bianca Dudzai Chipaga, Chamunorwa Gova — who are represented by the Forum — lost one child while the other was severely burnt by hot spent earth which is being disposed of at the unsecured dumpsite.
It is generated from a substance called activated earth which is used by the company in the process of refining crude oil to make edible oil.
They have cited Chitungwiza Municipality and the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) as respondents seeking to have the local authority declared to be unlawfully operating the dumpsite.
The parents also want Chitungwiza to be interdicted from authorising the dumping of waste at that site by companies.
This was after investigations conducted by Ema have revealed that one company dumps hazardous waste at the dumpsite called spent earth and it will be hot.
“The dumpsite is not fenced. There are no warning signs for members of the public. Due to the nature of the substances dumped at the dumpsite, some of which is hot, the dumpsite poses a huge source of danger to members of the public who venture into the area. The danger is particularly significant for minor children,” Chipaga said in an affidavit.
“In 2019, the applicants’ children sustained serious burns at the dumpsite after venturing into the area. I am aware of two minor children who died as a result of the burns and one was left with serious injuries.”
The court heard one of the victims, a seven-year-old, was playing near the site on September 12 and was seriously burnt by the hot spent earth, leading to her death.
“The first respondent operates the dumpsite. It is required to put in place safeguards which ensure that the waste dumped at the site is not hazardous either to human health and life as well as the environment. The dumpsite ought to be fenced off,” added Chipaga.
“We live in the face of constant and unmitigated danger posed by the dumpsite. The danger is more pronounced with respect to our minor children as demonstrated by our painful and fatal experiences.”
The dumpsite is not fenced and there is nothing demarcating the area showing safe zones or danger zones. There are no danger warning signs at all. This makes the dumpsite accessible to anyone regardless of age.
The court heard Chitungwiza had received several orders from Ema to safeguard the dumpsite, but failed to comply since 2011