GTAF has asked the question of both Alderman Limberg and Alderman Nieuwoudt how does the City intend to continue densification in the Table View area has not been upgraded. How will they deal with the sanitation issues given that the Potsdam wastewater plant is over capacity and the City of Cape Town commitment of an upgrade is 2025. We have also asked both of these highly paid Mayoral Committee members how they expected to implement the City of Cape Town’s densification policy when they waited until 2020 to start upgraded to the Potsdam Waste Water Plant. This after the City has granted zoning permission and have developed the area knowing that the infrastructure needed to be upgraded in order to meet the increase demand. Both Alderman are silent on this matter preferring to bury their heads in the sand whilst residents endure the daily misery of water leaks, the unbearable smell from the plant and the total destruction of our environment. 

This is shocking we have copied below mails from the Planning office of which Alderman Nieuwoudt heads. In summary this City official after first trying to mislead us states that they are aware of the problems at Potsdam but cannot stop approving plans as they would need a policy decision. 

NEMA (National Environmetal Management Act) States:

sustainable development requires the integration of social, economic and environmental factors in the planning, implementation and evaluation of decisions to ensure that development serves present and future generations;
secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while
promoting justifiable economic and social development;
Section 3 & 4 of the Act States: 

(3) Development must be socially, environmentally and economically
(4) (a) Sustainable development requires the consideration of all relevant

factors including the following:
(i) That the disturbance of ecosystems and loss of biological
diversity are avoided, or, where they cannot be altogether
avoided, are minimised and remedied;
(ii) that pollution and degradation of the environment are avoided, or, where they cannot be altogether avoided, are minimised and
remedied;So why do we need a policy change from the City when National Legislation is quite clear. 

Read below the contempt that the City of Cape Town and its employees have the Law. 

GTAF Asked

I have attached a page from a City of Cape Town presentation 03 SUB 06/11/2020. The section of this report deals with the capacity of the Potsdam Waste Water Treatment Plant. The document confirms that the Potsdam Plant is currently treating more effluent than it was designed to treat. It is clear that any additional demand would then flow into the Diep River as untreated  or semi treated effluent, increase pollution and cause more environmental damage.

Given the provision within NEMA, that all development must be environmentally sustainable. And given that the City of Cape Town must adhere to the law. And Given that By Laws are subservient to national legislation. Given that MPBL must consider to the environment.  Why is the office at Pienaar Road still processing land use applications and passing building plans that would see more flow of waste water into an already over capacity facility? The result of this would be more environmental damage.  Why are the case workers at Pienaar Road presenting reports that make the claim that there is capacity for land use applications?

We require a swift response from your office on this issue.

The City Responded by attempting to mislead us. They only check with Water & Sanitation at the Re-Zoning Stage all planning applications will just be signed off.

The Planning by-law came into effect as a result of the suite of legislation – from Provincial and National spheres. In this regard – the by-law must be in line with SPLUMA the national law, and also derive its powers from the national law.

The NEMA process was set-up as a separate process to deal with environmental issues. To proceed with a development you will need authority from both the by-law and NEMA – where and if required.

Most of the smaller by-law applications do not require NEMA approvals – but this does not mean we disregard environmental issues in such cases. In fact – we rely on City of Cape Town appointed professionals to provide us with the specific technical input/ conditions to finalise a planning application.

Referring specifically to the sewer outfall challenge – Linah’s case officers, being aware of the “fallout issues” will circulate applications to the specialist engineering department for them to do an assessment and provide comment back to us. In this regard we largely depend on their technical engineering expertise.

Given this, I find the Sub-Council approach constructive to liaise with the engineers and to obtain regular feedback from them – I hope this continues.

Turning to “refusing to accept applications”. This is not possible in terms of the bylaw – but this does not imply that any application will be approved. Should we receive a “show stopper” comment from a key technical department – I can assure you that in such cases the likelihood that it will be supported is slim. So the “applications and building plans approved” would have been considered by the engineering departments – and they considered such applications as acceptable incremental development with marginal additional impact on services.

I hope my response goes some way to clarify the issue.

GTAF than asked for clarity on the matter. 


We thank you for your reply. We would caution that your response is somewhat different from the responses we have had in from Water & Sanitation or the professionals as you refer to them. 

It is their claim that in terms of land use applications they are consulted as to the capacity of the Potsdam plant. But in terms of planning applications where rezoning has already been granted they only consider the technical capacity of the supply of water into the development. They consider that the capacity of the waste water plant would be sufficient as it would considered at the rezoning stage and the capacity would be installed at a rate to cope with the demand outlined in the District Plan. I would consider sending you these mails if you would want them.

This would cast doubt on your version that your department is acting within the law.  At a recent MPT meeting the planning office case worker made the following statement ‘This is not the end of densification in table View. There are latent rights not taken up to this day.’ The current Blaauwberg District Plan states that an upgrade to the Potsdam plant is required. However as we all know the City of Cape Town professionals failed to act on this and no upgrades were carried out. We note that the City has failed in its legal obligation to update the district plan on time.

You are aware that Potsdam Plant having not been upgraded and the proposed upgrades being completed in only 2025. This is the information we have from the professionals as you refer to them. Yet these same professionals working with yourself, the staff of Pienaar Road, The City of Cape Town Planning Department and the members of the MPT have seen fit to confer property rights that would see an increased demand for the waste water treatment. As we have pointed out earlier and according to our interaction with these water and sanitation professionals any planning application would not consider the capacity of the waste water treatment. As you are aware this plant is currently 10 megalitres over its designed capacity and as such cannot take ANY FURTHER demand.

Whilst we agree that a property owner has the right to develop their property within the given zoning and building restrictions. No property owner has the right to develop in such a way they would damage the environment. The right to a clean environment is a constitutional right and as such all property rights and by-laws is subservient to the constitution.  Given that the Potsdam Plant is currently operating over capacity that any further connections to this plant would damage the environment and the ‘SHOW STOPPER’ comment has already been given. It is also clear that the City of Cape Town appointed officials have advised of this and that your office is aware of this ‘SHOW STOPPER’ comment. For whatever reason you would seem to be ignoring this to the detriment of the environment and the public good.  From your mail the best defence you have for these actions is ‘we rely on City of Cape Town appointed professionals to provide us with the specific technical input/ conditions to finalise a planning application. We would point out that these same professionals are advising there is not more capacity. It is reasonable for us to assume that you and your department are aware of the damage you are doing when approving planning applications.

Could you please respond to why you consider your department can ignore the comment by Water and Sanitation that the Potsdam Plant is over capacity? Could you comment as to why you believe it is legal to pass plans for developments when you are aware that the waste water from these developments will cause environmental damage and not be sustainable? Can you also please give us feedback on how you intend to manage the next five years and ensure that the development can continue whilst there is no capacity at the Potsdam Plant? We would also ask for your response to ensuring that all future planning applications are submitted to Water and Sanitation for their approval in terms of Waste Water Capacity with the requirement of an engineering certificate for every applications.

The City Responded with its normal vague claims. You will note that they claim that a presentation made to sub council become “Generic” statements. What the City is doing is absolute madness. Its at least four years before The Potsdam Wastewater Plant can cope with current demand without adding more to it. How do they expect to add more demand to this system ? 

Just a quick response, we request formal comment from the Engineering departments by circulating the application details to them electronically. They then respond formally to our request and we use that input to make our determination – so their comment is very application specific.

We cannot rely on “generic” statements made in presentations, as all applications follow a legal process that can come under scrutiny from legal review. I hope that clarifies the matter.