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Environmental Affairs launches National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report (NECER) at Lekgotla

02 November 2015, Royal Marang Hotel, Rustenburg, North West Province
 

NECER report launchThe national Department of Environmental Affairs, on 02 November 2015, launched the National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report (NECER) 2014/15 in Rustenburg, North West at the Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Lekgotla.

The conference is a gathering of Environmental Management Inspectors (EMIs), popularly referred to as the Green Scorpions.

The NECER Report was launched during day one of the weeklong conference scheduled to take place from the 02 November – 06 November 2015. The Department of Environmental Affairs hosts the conference every second year. The 2014-15 report is the 08th National Compliance and Enforcement Report to be published.

The theme for this year’s lekgotla is “Power of the Past-Force of the Future: A Decade for the Inspectorate: 2005-2015”. This year, 2015, represents a significant milestone for environmental compliance and enforcement in South Africa. It marks ten years since an amendment to the National Environmental Management Act created the Environmental Management Inspectorate (commonly known as the Green Scorpions) in our statute books.  This legislative development pulled together existing efforts in the green, brown and blue subsectors into a single, cohesive and effective compliance and enforcement framework.

During his welcome address, the Head of Department for the North West Department of Rural, Environment, Agriculture and Development, Dr Poncho Mokaila said, “The theme  also elevates 2005 - 2015 as the phenomenal decade for the Inspectorate through environmental compliance and enforcement.”

The Green Scorpions (Environmental Management Inspectors - EMIs) as well as other critical environmental compliance and enforcement role players from across the country, including the SAPS (South African Police Service), INTERPOL, SARS (South African Revenue Service), BMA PO (Border Management Agency: Project Office), Department of Water and Sanitation, NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) and Department of Mineral Resources converged in Rustenburg for the 6th Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Lekgotla.

The capacity of the EMI has grown over the last financial year with a 19.8% increase in the total number of EMIs on the national register from 1915 in 2013/14 to 2294 in 2014/15. Of the 2294 that are registered on the national register, there has been a marked increase in the number of local authority and field ranger Grade 5 EMIs. Local authority EMIs have significantly increased from 42 in 2013/14 to 180 at the end of 2014/15 financial year. Of the total 2294 EMIs on the national register, 1300 (56%) are Grade 5 EMIs (field rangers employed at national and provincial parks authorities).

Despite the general increase in the Inspectorate’s numbers, it should be noted that some EMI institutions experience ongoing challenges with a lack of capacity. 4 EMI Institutions (Cape Nature, Mpumalanga, MPTA and Isimangaliso) together have only 54 EMIs, comprising less than 3% of the total. 2 provinces recorded 0 municipal EMIs (Free State and Northern Cape) and 1 province (Eastern Cape) only has 3.

With respect to criminal enforcement, there has been an 8.5% increase (1861 to 2019) in the number of criminal dockets registered when compared with those registered during 2013/14 reporting period. The total number of arrests by EMIs has generally decreased from 1818 in 2012/13 to 1371 in 2013/14 and 1259 in 2014/15. The number of criminal dockets handed to the NPA has decreased by 33% from 379 in 2013/14 to 253 in 2014/15. Convictions reported have decreased by 16.7% from 78 reported in 2013/14 to 65 in 2014/15. These figures indicate that, although the Inspectorate has increased the number of dockets registered, that there is room for improvement in the finalisation of investigations and subsequent convictions, bearing in mind that the criminal procedure process does take an extended period of time to finalise that often spans two reporting periods.

The total number of administrative notices (pre-and final) issued increased from 709 in 2013/14 to 729 in 2014/15. The total number of warning letters issued has increased significantly from 228 in 2013/14 to 364 in 2014/15 which equates to an increase of 59.64%. This shows a tendency to use less formal enforcement mechanisms to achieve compliance.

With respect to the undertaking of compliance inspections; there were a total of 2889 facilities inspected in 2014/15, which reflects an increase of 1.3% from the 2849 facilities inspected in 2013/14. Of the total number of facilities inspected, 58.97% (1706) were against environmental impact and pollution requirements, while 40.79% (1180) were in the biodiversity/protected areas subsector and 0.24% (7) were inspected against marine/coastal issues. The total number of non-compliances detected during inspections has increased from 1539 in 2013/14 to 2177 in 2014/15, representing a significant 41.45% increase. This could indicate that that the level of non-compliances that are being detected through the undertaking of inspections has increased.

The highest sentence of direct imprisonment without a fine option was recorded in the case of S v Cheng Jie Liang. (Table View Mas 316/09/2012). The accused was sentenced to 10 years direct imprisonment of which 3 years were suspended on condition that the accused pay a fine of R5 million within 12 months. The investigation was undertaken by CapeNature in terms of section 42(1) of Nature Conservation Ordinance 19 of 1974.

Highest sentence for a pollution and waste case was achieved by the national Department of Environmental Affairs in the matter of the State v Samancor Chrome Ltd for a contravention of section section 29(4) of ECA. The accused was found guilty on two counts and sentenced to a fine of R 200 000. The noteworthy aspect of this case, was, however, the additional court order that the accused was required to pay R1 million to DEA’s Inspectorate for the “proper execution of their duties, environmental rehabilitation and enforcement training…”; R700 000 to DEA, who was ordered to “in conjunction with the Steelport Primary School, liaise with the Department of Education to develop environmental initiatives for the benefit of the school” ; and R100 000 in respect of prosecution costs. This case illustrates that the “polluter pays” principle is finding effective application in our courts of law.

Speaking at the launch, Deputy Director-General for Legal Authorisations Compliance and Enforcement at the DEA, Mr Ishaam Abader, “A more recent highlight is the adoption by the Inspectorate of the National Compliance and Enforcement Strategy. This strategy was developed to identify critical areas of improvement and represents a short to medium term roadmap to a compliance and enforcement system that is, in summary, simpler, better and faster. This financial year marks the first of a five year implementation plan. In this regard you will notice that the workshops this afternoon are all focused on recommendations emanating directly from the strategy.”

Members of the public are urged to report environmental incidents and crimes to the 24 hour hotline 0800 205 005.

To access the presentation on the 2014/15 National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report, as well as the speech by Ishaam Abader of DEA and Poncho Mokaila of North West Environment, visit the » National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Lekgotla event page.

For media queries contact:

Roopa Singh
Cell: 082 225 3076


Fact sheet

The National Environmental Management Act, Act 107 of 1998 (NEMA) established the Environmental Management Inspectorate.  This legislative development pulled together existing efforts in the green (biodiversity, protected areas), brown (environmental impact assessment, pollution and waste) and blue (marine and coastal) subsectors into a single, cohesive and effective legislative framework. It did this by creating a single chapter in NEMA which created environmental management inspectors as compliance and enforcement officers with standard mandates, powers, functions and duties, responsible for ensuring that national environmental legislation is complied with and properly enforced where contraventions are detected.

What is the National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report (NECER)?

The NECER represents the work of 9 provincial environmental and 54 provincial parks authorities, DEA, Sanparks and the Isimangaliso Wetland Park Authority and it is the main communication mechanism that tells the public about the work of the Inspectorate in the preceding financial year. It also provides a national overview of environmental compliance and enforcement activities undertaken by relevant institutions across the country.