Following the large number of complaints received from the residents of Stellenbosch & Franschhoek, The Legal Resources Centre, on behalf of the TATIB Foundation, sent a letter to Stellenbosch Municipality on 30 November 2009 in which the problems of spray drift, of agricultural chemicals, were clearly documented.
A copy of the letter is to be found here :
The links to the official minutes of these meetings are to be found here :
On 24 January 2011, The TATIB Foundation met with various representatives of Stellenbosch Municipality, at their offices in Stellenbosch. The press were evicted from this meeting.
The official minutes of the meeting can be found here :
On 11 February 2011, our attorneys, under The Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) sent a letter of request (together with a cheque payment as prescribed by law) to Stellenbosch Municipality, in which we requested further information and answers to several questions. Under Section 26 of the Promotion of Access to Information Act of 2000, Stellenbosch Municipality had 30 days to furnish TATIB with the requested information.
The PAIA application documents can be found here :
On 18 March 2011, Keith Ford, Information Officer for Stellenbosch Municipality notified us of their intention to extend the time period by another 30 days.
The notice of this is to be found here :
On 14 April 2011, Keith Ford of Stellenbosch Municipality, furnished our attorneys with their response to our application.
The documentation is to be found here :-
If you read through the documentation, and our comments below, you will see that Stellenbosch Municipality have not only wasted our time, and "strung us along" but they also appear to have not been honest with us and may also have attempted to cover up their lack of commitment to this well documented problem. Their "mediocre" response leaves a lot to be desired and makes us wonder why they took more than 60 days to furnish us with answers to our questions. As matters now stand, they have actually not bothered to provide us with the answers that we had requested in the first place, as according to them, they have no records.
IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU HAVE ACCESS TO THE ABOVEMENTIONED DOCUMENTS IN ORDER TO FOLLOW OUR COMMENTS BELOW.
With regards to Stellenbosch Municipality's response of 14 April 2010, The TATIB Foundation wishes to comment as follows :-
TATIB finds this answer to be unacceptable. If you refer to Stellenbosch's Minutes of 12 May 2010, point (a) ,(b) & (c) on page 12 and the Minutes of the meeting of 25 May 2010 page 40-42, they make mention that not only was the initiative going to be endorsed in terms of the National AirQuality Act, but also that the costs for implementation would be investigated and that the administration would submit regular progress reports to the Council, the matter being held in abeyance and re-submitted at the next meeting of the Council.We find it strange therefore, that Keith Ford has stated that the requested record does not exist. Looks like a cover up does it not ?
TATIB finds this answer to be unacceptable. If you refer to Stellenbosch's Minutes of 12 May & 25 May 2010 respectively, you will see that specific reference is made to the fact that Jonathan May is a qualified environmental officer and that Gondwana Environmental Solutions be contacted to complete the draft of the Air Quality Management Plan for Stellenbosch Municipality and that consultancy fees be made available for investigation of the allegations according to the already approved budget.
We find it strange therefore that Keith Ford has no record of Jonathan May, despite the fact that an undertaking was made to not only investigate the allegations made by TATIB and numerous residents, but to also appoint Gondwana Environmental Solutions to complete the draft Air Quality Management Plan, according to a budget that had already been approved.
Advocate Alice Wilton, Law Enforcement, Stellenbosch Municipality, on page 33 of the minutes of the meeting of 24 Jan 2011 stated , in response to a question about the draft Air Quality Management plan stated, and I quote, " We have got a provisional quotation from the company (Gondwana Environmental Solutions? ) doing the investigation for us of approximately R300 000.” , " so they started the work and we .."
Brian Davidson, on page 32 & 33 of the minutes of 24 January 2011, in response to a question " Can we get a copy of the quote of R300 000.00?" ,stated and quote " No, No, No, No, No. Sorry that is an internal administrative document. I really do not see what the need of that requirement is in terms of …. We are getting quotes for stuff, you know, that is our business. Please you are going way beyond.” “….We already indicated that we got a quote with an estimate, but it will cost in the region of R300000, why do you need the quote?"
Keith Ford is of the opinion that no such record exists. In other words Stellebosch Municipality have no record of ever approaching Gondwana Environmental Solutions, nor any other consultancy, to prepare Stellenbosch Municipality's air quality management plan. Yet Alice Wilton (Law Enforcement) and Basil Davidson (Director Planning & Development) both stated, at the meeting of 24 January 2011 that a quotation
R300 000.00 had been received for this. Who is telling the truth here and who is not ? Why has Davidson refused to furnish us with a copy of the alleged quotation ? Could it be that no such quotation even exists and that no consultants were in fact ever requested to do the study ?
In other words, all the undertakings made, within the minutes of the meetings of 12 & 15 May 20101 never materialised, which in effect is a clear indication that Stellenbosch Municipality has not only wasted our time, but has ignored the complaints and requests made by not only The TATIB Foundation, but also by a large number of irate residents, students, parents of scholars, medical practitioners and environmental attorneys.
Possibly Stellenbosch Municipality has been so busy investigating and or attempting to possibly hide and conceal, all the alleged corruption within its walls, that it has simply swept the pesticide issue under the mat ? We leave it up to the readers to form their own opinion in this regard.
TATIB finds this answer to be totally unacceptable. Portia Bolton, of Stellenbosch Municipality, on pages23- 25 of the minutes of 24 January 2011 is aware of what was sprayed previously and she also admits that she is aware of the toxicity of Bumper, Tilt & Rubigan. TATIB has information from the suppliers of these fungicides, that Stellenbosch Municipality did indeed use the products. There is also an admission that they now only
use some kind of foliar feed. Why the cover up ? How can Keith Ford honestly have no record of what was sprayed and what is sprayed ?
TATIB finds the answers to these questions to be totally unacceptable. Stellenbosch Municipality is the end user when it comes to the products that it sprays onto the Oak trees, It is also the end user when it comes to the herbicides that it uses to control and or eradicate weeds found on pavements and other public places. By law, it is required to notify all inhabitants, of the impending spraying by providing further details, and to issue the necessary warnings. Possibly Stellenbosch Municipality consider themselves to be above the law and do not view unlawful spray drift, of toxic agricultural chemicals, into its residential areas as a serious enough issue to take action?
The TATIB Foundation has all along maintained that Stellenbosch Municipality may have something to hide. They threw the journalists out of the meeting of 24 January 2011 as they did not want this matter to be made public. They have refused to furnish us with their official minutes of the meeting of the 24th and instead made it our responsibility to submit the minutes of OUR meeting that THEY assumed chairmanship of. Fortunately we have an audio recording of the meeting and so we have been able to submit accurate minutes in this regard.
Whilst the bureaucrats at Stellenbosch Municipality "beat about the bush" in an attempt to cover up not only the allegations regarding their alleged mis-management and supposed corruption, the children, students and residents of Stellenbosch & Franschhoek continue to be exposed to a deadly cocktail of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. One would have thought, that with the upcoming Municipal elections, they would have realised how important the health of their residents is, but alas it appears that "political in-fighting" has taken center stage.