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Environmental Affairs publishes ninth National Environmental Complience and Enforcement Report (NECER)

22 November 2016
 
 
The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) today, 22 November 2016, released its ninth National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement report (NECER) for the 2015/16 financial year.
 
The 2015/16 NECER report marks another year in which the DEA has collaborated with its provincial counterparts and statutory bodies to develop a joint publication that aims to provide an overview of environmental compliance and enforcement activities undertaken by the various environmental authorities in the past financial year.  
 
It details the work of the Environmental Management Inspectorate (EMI), popularly known as the Green Scorpions.
 
“What is different about this year’s edition is that DEA has also collaborated with the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) to include some key statistics from DWS in respect of compliance and enforcement activities related to fresh water resources which form part of the broader environment,” said the Deputy Director-General for Legal Authorisations Compliance and Enforcement in the DEA, Ishaam Abader.
 
The 2015/16 NECER report highlights a number of joint compliance and enforcement operations that required the Inspectorate to collaborate with a number of other regulatory authorities across all of the sub-sectors. The pilot project was completed for Initiative 5 of the Marine Protection Services and Governance LAB under Oceans Economy Phakisa which is aimed at enhanced and coordinated compliance and enforcement.
 
Through these joint operations, which involved 7 National Departments, 3 Provinces, 6 Municipalities and 3 Agencies, this integrated approach addresses all forms of illegal activities within the ocean and coastal environment including, amongst others, the monitoring and associated compliance and enforcement activities related to illegal fishing, whale watching, shark cage diving, off-road driving, illegal activities within Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), pollution events, illegal effluent discharge, illegal developments in the terrestrial coastal zone, piracy, human trafficking, human smuggling, introduction of alien and invasive species through the ballast systems and customs and excise requirements.
 
We have seen a remarkable increase in visible policing through this Initiative which continues in 2016/17 financial year with the support of NATJOINTS and the relevant roleplayers.
 
During the reporting period, the Inspectorate also commenced with a project to try and address one of the five primary drivers of biodiversity loss in the country – alien and invasive species.  In conjunction with the promulgation of the Alien and Invasive Species Regulations, a compliance inspection programme was implemented in the agricultural and pet shop sectors.   Following the promulgation of the Waste Tyre Regulations (“the Regulations”), the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa (“REDISA”) submitted an Integrated Industry Waste Tyre Management Plan (“IIWTMP”). In November 2016, national and provincial EMIs conducted compliance inspections at 20 registered sites across the country. Following these inspections, a total of 21 pre-compliance notices were issued to all the depot managers, as well as REDISA’s Head Office.
 
In relation to statistics, there was a slight increase in the number of EMIs compared with the previous year with a 5.1% growth in the total number of Green Scorpions on the national register, from 2294 in 2014/15 to 2411 in 2015/16.  There are 236 municipal EMIs in South Africa.   Of the total number of EMIs on the national register, 67% or 1639 are Grade 5 inspectors, which are field rangers employed at national and provincial parks across the country.  This is an increase of 339 rangers in the past year.  The majority of the Grade 5 EMI field rangers are employed by SANParks (802), Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (605), the Limpopo department of economic development, environment and tourism (269) and Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (158).  .
 
There has been a 0.8% increase in the number of criminal dockets registered from 1250 in 2014/15 to 1261 in 2015/16, while the number of criminal dockets handed to the National Prosecuting Authority for prosecution has increased by 14% -- from 257 to 293 in the past financial year.  While the number of acquittals decreased from 6 to 5 in the past financial year, the number of convictions decreased by 20% from 65 to 52. There was also a decrease in the number of plea and sentence agreements concluded from 15 in 2014/15 to 13 reported in 2015/16.
 
Another notable enforcement finding includes that the total number of administrative notices issued has increased by 25.65% from 729 in 2014/15 to 916 in 2015/16.
 
There was a general decrease in the Section 24G administrative fines paid -- from R14 005 423 in 2014/15 to R8 019 250 in 2015/16.
 
Compliance monitoring inspections increased by 27.6% in the past financial year, with 3687 facilities inspected.  Of these 2033 (55.1%) were inspected against pollution, waste and impact assessment legislative requirements, while 1196 (32.4%) were in the biodiversity/protected areas sub-sector and 458 (12.5%) in the coastal management sector.
 
There has been a significant increase of 98.7% in the total number of pro-active inspections conducted which brings the total from 1247 in 2014/15 to 2474 in 2015/16.  The total number of reactive inspections conducted in 2015/16 amounted to 1224, which reflects a 178% increase from the 440 conducted in 2014/15.  The total number of non-compliances detected during inspections increased from 2177 in 2014/15 to 2735 in 2015/16, representing a significant 25.6% increase. Of the total number of non-compliances detected 1678 were in the pollution, waste and impact assessment subsector, 924 coastal management and 133 biodiversity/protected area, and required follow-on enforcement action. 
 
Among the annual compliance and enforcement highlights contained in the annual report include the case related to rhino poaching of State versus Mucindi Abondi, Silver Tibane, Gitto Zith (Skukuza CAS 7/10/2014) where the accused were charged with trespassing, illegal hunting and possession of fire-arm and ammunition and possession of dangerous weapon. The court sentenced accused 1 and 2 to 30 years direct imprisonment.
 
The ongoing capacity development programme of the Inspectorate included both basic and specialised training for EMIs, the latter comprising courses on biodiversity crime scene management, pollution and waste sampling; and Barcode of Wildlife voucher specimen sample taking courses. Finally, awareness-raising initiatives of key role-players resulted in courses presented to magistrates, prosecutors, traffic officers and border officials.
 
A number of Green Scorpions have also been nominated to serve on INTERPOLS’ environmental compliance and enforcement executive committee and working groups in the last financial year.  This by implication has elevated the work of EMI institutions to form a key contributor towards the global initiative in the fight against environmental crime.  Another key focus area is forming partnerships and the identification of areas where the network of participants can share expertise and skills across international boundaries.  This has essentially increased the pool of specialist skills which EMI institutions are able to access.  
 
It is our responsibility to ensure a balance of the three pillars of sustainable development, namely socio-economic growth, consideration of impacts on people and protecting and conserving the environment for future generations.
 
Members of the public are urged to report environmental incidents and crimes to the 24 hour hotline 0800 205 005.
 
To access the 2015/16 National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report click on the following link: https://www.environment.gov.za/sites/default/files/reports/necer2016.pdf
 
For media inquiries contact:
Albi Modise
Cell: +27 83 490 2871