Court orders closure of killer dumpsite

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THE High Court has ordered the closure of a dumpsite in Chitungwiza where two children reportedly died
after they were exposed to hot spent earth which was being disposed there.
Judge Justice Mary Dube granted an application by Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum on behalf of the parents
of the victims, Bianca Dudzai Chipaga and Chamunorwa Gova.

Hot spent earth is generated from a substance called activated earth which is used by a local company in refining crude oil to make edible oil.

“It is declared that the first respondent (Chitungwiza Municipality) is operating the Chitungwiza dumpsite illegally and in a manner which violates the applicants’ right to an environment that is not harmful to their health and well-being,” reads the order by Dube.

“The first respondent is ordered and directed to fence off the dumpsite with wrought iron fence and erect visible warning signs indicating areas which pose danger to the public and stop operating until it has been certified and commissioned for use in writing by the second respondent (Environmental Management Agency).”

Investigations by the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) revealed that the hazardous waste is disposed of at the Chigumba Stands dumpsite while still hot.

“The dumpsite is not fenced. There are no warning signs for the public. Due to the nature of the substances disposed of at the dumpsite, some of which is hot, the dumpsite poses a huge source of danger to the public
who venture into the area. The danger is particularly significant for minor children,” the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum 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 Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum.

The court heard that Chitungwiza had received several orders from Ema to safeguard the dumpsite, but failed to comply since 2011.

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