Please find below the following legislation updates applicable to the environmental field:
Notices and comments:
- National Water Act 36 of 1998 – GN 998 in GG 42584 of 19 July 2019 – Reserve determination of water resources for the Inkomati catchment; and,
- Eastern Cape Environmental Management Bill – PN 205 in PG 4273 of 22 July 2019 – for comment (Eastern Cape).
- Frederick E “Hungry elephants fight climate change one mouthful at a time” 15 July 2019;
- Moloney A “Ecuador tribe wins legal battle over the Amazon” 12 July 2019; and,
- Gumede M “Empty nets as overfishing and climate change sap Lake Malawi” Mail & Guardian 15 July 2019.
Marine: R28m worth of abalone confiscated in 2018 − Minister
“The Department of Environmental Affairs has confiscated abalone and rock lobster worth about R28m on the Western Cape coastline in the 2018-19 financial year. According to a Cape Times report, Environmental Affairs Minister Barbara Creecy revealed this in a written response to a parliamentary question from the IFP’s Narend Singh. Singh had enquired about the progress the department has made in the fight against abalone poaching along the Western Cape coastline. He also wanted to know what additional steps had been taken by the Department in co-operation with SAPS, law enforcement agencies and other specialised environmental law enforcement bodies to eradicate abalone poaching. Creecy said there has been an increase in the number of enforcement operations conducted on the coastal communities of Gansbaai, Kleinbaai, Franskraal and Pearly Beach. She said 10 operations took place in the Overberg area in the Western Cape under Initiative Five of Operation Phakisa. The operations were a combination of proactive and reactive operations aimed at disrupting illegal activities and apprehending poachers, she explained.”
Climate change and energy:
- Woodward A “Antarctica is melting so fast that scientists are proposing shooting artificial snow out of cannons to slow it down” News24 19 July 2019;
- Cockburn H “Scotland generating enough wind energy to power two Scotlands” The Independent 20 July 2019; and,
- Weston P “Underwater glacial melting up to 100 times faster than thought, study finds” The Independent 25 July 2019.
Waste, Water and Chemicals:
- Pollution: Ship owner found liable for PE oil spill
“The owner of a vessel from which about 400l of oil spilled into the ocean off Port Elizabeth has been found to be liable, the SA Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) said. A Cape Times report notes that the spill occurred in Algoa Bay on 6 July, while bunkering services company SA Marine Fuels was refuelling the MV Chrysanthi S. Samsa, which conducted an investigation, said the vessel’s owner had been found liable for the disaster. ‘It appears that the oil spill occurred after one of the fuel tank valves was not properly closed, leading to a vast amount of fuel accidentally spilling out on to the vessel and into the sea. At the time, the vessel had been supplied with as much as 1 300 metric tons of fuel,’ said Samsa’s regional manager Bongi Stofile. Stofile added that the owners, Golden Flower Navigation Incorporated, had accepted liability. The MV Chrysanthi S had been held during the investigation. Unfortunately, marine wildlife was affected by the spill, particularly sea birds and penguins. Last week, 90 African penguins, nine penguin chicks, three penguin eggs, 12 Cape gannets and five Cape cormorants drenched in oil had been rescued and were being cleaned, Stofile said.”
- Marine: Nahoon beach sewage spill worries locals
“Thousands of litres of raw sewage spewed into the Nahoon River last week, leaving a stinking, concentrated slick of black-blue water in the stretch of river beneath the N2 and North East Expressway bridges, said Nahoon Estuary Management Forum member Eric Jones. A Daily Dispatch report notes that Jones said sewage spillage into the river happened regularly, but the latest environmental disaster was the worst. ‘It’s thousands of litres of raw sewage flowing into the river and with it come all kinds of water-borne diseases. No one should be boating or using the river with a spill of this magnitude,’ said Jones. He said the spills occurred due to regular blockages at the Nompumelelo settlement. While there were other points where sewage flowed into the river, the forum believed 80% of it was coming from the stormwater pipes which run under the N2. ‘It happens when the system gets clogged up at Nompumelelo and overflows into the stormwater system, and finds its way into the river,’ said Jones. He said the spill had been reported to the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Department of Water & Sanitation and water samples had been taken.”
- Mining Weekly: James N “Concerns remain around ‘much improved’ 2019 mine rehab financial provision regulations” 19 July 2019 [Legalbrief Environmental 23 July 2019]
- Cockburn H “Cigarette butts causing ‘serious damage to environment’, study on impact to plant growth reveals” The Independent 19 July 2019;
- IISD SDG Knowledge Hub: Ledaba AM “UNGA Looks to Next Steps to Bolster International Environmental Law” 25 July 2019; and,
- Watts J “Make environmental damage a war crime, say scientists” The Independent 24 July 2019.
Summary of interesting court cases:
- Criminal: SCA grants rhino poachers leave to appeal
The SCA has granted the three members of the Ndlovu rhino poaching gang leave to appeal their effective 25-year prison sentences as well as certain aspects of their conviction. A Daily Dispatch report says it granted the three leave to appeal the admission into evidence key items seized in a police raid which led to their conviction on 55 charges relating to the poaching of 13 rhino over three years in the Eastern Cape. Without that evidence, the entire case against the three men effectively dissolves and their conviction would fall away. That key evidence was also used to weave together a complex web of circumstantial evidence. Without it, the men would never have been connected or convicted of any of the 13 poaching incidents. The men challenged the admissibility of the evidence on the grounds that the police search and seizure was illegal as they had not waited for an arrest warrant before raiding the three men’s room. The SCA ruled that their appeal against conviction would be limited to whether or not the court had correctly admitted the evidence obtained as a result of the unlawful search. On sentence, it ordered that the appeal would be limited to whether the cumulative effect of 25 years was ‘shockingly inappropriate’. It ruled the appeal should be heard by a full Bench of three judges of the Eastern Cape High Court (Makhanda).
- De Lange NO v Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs 2019 (4) SA 445 (SCA)
Prescription—Extinctive prescription—Commencement—Claim based on delict—No ongoing infringement of right where conditions for its exercise not met or right not exercised—Claim based on losses resulting from government’s failure to maintain irrigation scheme—When water supply ended, plaintiff stopped exercising his right, which was conditional—Hence no ongoing infringement—Claim prescribed—National Water Act 36 of 1998, ss 22–27 and 39; Prescription Act 68 of 1969, s 12(3).
Water—Right to water—Infringement—Not infringed on ongoing basis where, as in present case, conditions for exercising such right not met or right not exercised—National Water Act 36 of 1998, ss 22–27 and 39.
- Yeld J “Supreme Court of Appeal sends coal company packing” GroundUp 23 July 2018.
- Criminal: SCA grants rhino poachers leave to appeal