Stench over Gauteng sparks government probe

South Africa’s environment ministry is investigating a “stench” that has settled over Gauteng, which includes the commercial hub of Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria, this week.

The smell, which in the past has been caused by high levels of sulphur dioxide pollution, sparked speculation about its origin on social media and whether it’s being blown in from Mpumalanga. Mpumalanga is the site of most of the country’s coal-fired power plants, as well as a giant petrochemical complex owned by Sasol.

Forecaster Gauteng Weather warned that the pollution could be harmful and urged caution. It also tied the origin to Mpumalanga.

The department “is working with environmental and air-quality officials in Mpumalanga, Gauteng, Limpopo and North West to determine the cause of the stench,” it said in a statement on Thursday.

It needs to be determined “whether prevailing wind and weather conditions have contributed to the smell travelling over a long distance from another province, as was the case when a similar incident was reported in 2021”, it said.  — (c) 2022 Bloomberg LP