Xundu said the army would not allow its work to be impeded by thieves.
“All of that area will be declared a military zone, so that the military can move in and secure the area, and make sure that the equipment that is going to be used there is not going to be stolen or vandalised.”
In September, the South African Human Rights Commission conducted a site inspection of the Vaal River following allegations of approximately 150 megalitres of raw sewage spilling into the river daily. It stated: “The site inspection has revealed a prima facie violation of the rights of access to clean water, clean environment and human dignity.” The commission invited written submissions about the crisis to be sent to it by November 30.
Xundu said the project was expected to take a year.
“We are availing ourselves to cooperate with all the stakeholders that are there,” he said.
Maureen Stewart, vice-chairperson of Save the Vaal Environment (Save), confirmed army members have visited the Vaal. Their intention, she said, was “to bring in quite a number of troops to secure infrastructure, which is subject to theft and vandalism”.
Stewart said the army would also look at repairs and maintenance to stop sewage running into the river.
She said the non-government organisation welcomed the army’s involvement.
“We are happy to work with anybody who is going to solve the problem. Our aim is to see this river cleaned up and these problems resolved.”