Durban – The allegations made against an ActionSA mayoral candidate in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, Faizel Cassim, an owner of a laundry business, are unsubstantiated, according to the party’s national chairperson, Michael Beaumont.
Cassim was accused earlier this year by Newcastle’s mayor Ntuthuko Mahlaba of polluting the Amcor Dam and Ncandu River with run-off chemicals from his laundry. Cassim was ordered by the Pietermaritzburg High Court to close his business, which had been open since 2008, for 30 days after the municipality had dragged him before a judge.
But ActionSA did not take the accusations lightly, and later ordered two private companies to conduct tests on the waters which Cassim was accused of contaminating.
In a press briefing on Wednesday with the party’s eThekwini mayoral candidate Dr Makhosi Khoza present, Beaumont presented the findings from the tests on the river system, the dam and the stormwater around Cassim’s laundry.
“It could not be determined that the pollution arose from the business premises of Mr Cassim; that the river system has massive levels of contamination, both above and below Mr Cassim’s premises, mostly comprising of raw sewage that arises from a catastrophic failure of the municipality to manage its sewerage network; and the animal that is alleged to have died most likely perished as a result of sewerage-based contamination.
“As it stands, the only evidence presented to the public does not substantiate the allegations made by the Newcastle Municipality and its mayor, both of which require scrutiny in these matters,” Beaumont said.
He said should any credible evidence arise which support the municipality’s claim, the party will act decisively to remove Cassim from his position.
With the local government elections around the corner, Beaumont said the allegations came at a convenient time, as ActionSA had been gaining momentum in Newcastle which posed a threat to both Mahlaba and the ANC.
“The handling of this matter by the municipality itself has been shockingly political. Statements were released by municipal communications personnel that found Cassim guilty before the tests were even conducted.
“Despite Mr Cassim’s premises operating for several years, the timing of this incident and its proximity to these local government elections generates cynicism. Reports from residents reveal this may be the most decisive and swiftest action the municipality has demonstrated in years,” he said.
After Cassim was ordered by the court to shut down the business, municipal spokesperson Mlungisi Khumalo said that it was not a victory for the municipality, but a victory for the residents of Newcastle who wish to see a thriving ecosystem.
“The municipality hopes that the court ruling will send a strong message to environmental delinquents who have little regard for nature,” Khumalo said.
But the Newcastle mayor is no stranger to allegations or the court, as he was recently charged with assault, theft and malicious damage to property. The charges emanate from an altercation between him and contractors who had been installing fibre cables in the Newcastle area.
ANC provincial spokesperson, Nhlakanipho Ntombela, confirmed that Mahlaba had been removed from the list of the party’s councillor candidates.
The ANC eMalahleni regional chairperson was also arrested in 2019 for the murder of ANC Youth League (ANCYL) leader, Wandile Ngubeni. Charges against Mahlba were dropped after a key witness was killed.