Department of Environmental Affairs releases 2017/18 National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report

23 January 2019


The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has released the 2017/18 National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report (NECER), which outlines the activities of the Environmental Management Inspectorate during this reporting period.

It provides an overview of the measures taken by the Green Scorpions in giving effect to Section 24 of the Constitution. The 2017/18 financial year marks the 12th year in which DEA has collaborated with its provincial and local counterparts and statutory bodies to develop the National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report (NECER).

The Environmental Management Inspectorate, more popularly known as the Green Scorpions, comprises 2 973 officials who work in 18 entities, including the environmental departments of national, provincial and local government, the Department of Water and Sanitation, and entities such as SANParks, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, CapeNature and Mpumlanga Parks and Tourism. 

There are presently 2 640 EMIs working in national and provincial government, and 333 municipal EMIs. By the end of the 2017/18 financial year, there were 1723 Grade 5 EMI field rangers employed in national and provincial parks around the country. At local authority level, there was an increase of 30 EMIs working in municipalities in the past year.

These officials operate across the country, covering environmental compliance and enforcement in the green (biodiversity/protected areas), brown (pollution, waste, impact assessment) and blue (integrated coastal management) sub-sectors. Their task is to ensure the implementation of, and adherence to, specific pieces of national environmental legislation.

It should be noted that the NECER focuses on the activities of environmental authorities and the Department of Water and Sanitation, but does not reflect the compliance and enforcement work being undertaken by other related sectors.  These include agriculture, forestry and fisheries, mineral resources, labour, health and the SA Police Service (SAPS).

The financial year continued to display a similar pattern in relation to the most prevalent types of environmental crimes being detected by the various EMI Institutions. For the brown sub-sector, the unlawful commencement of environmental impact assessment listed activities continues to be the most common non-compliance, while in the green sub-sector, illegal hunting and illegal entry to national parks and other protected areas continues to be the predominant environmental crime.

With regard to ensuring conformity in the industrial sector, proactive compliance monitoring and enforcement work continued in relation to priority sectors. These include the ferro-Alloy, steel and iron sectors, refineries, power generation and identified landfill sites. 

In the 2017/18 reporting period, biodiversity compliance and enforcement continued to focus on the high-risk species, such as rhinoceros, elephants, pangolins and cycads, while still ensuring that other species receive the protection from the Inspectorate.

In addition to pursuing the criminal prosecution and conviction of offenders of biodiversity legislation, the Green Scorpions had also been involved in a number of proactive international and domestic projects/ initiatives that seek to improve the capacity of the EMIs to combat these types of offences.

In relation to rhino cases, EMIs from all the relevant institutions are actively involved in anti-poaching operations, crime scene management, providing ongoing support to the SAPS members who take the lead in investigating these cases, while they also assist prosecutors acting under the auspices of the National Prosecuting Authorities to secure convictions in the courts.

As a result of implementing aspects of the Integrated Strategic Management Approach for Rhinoceros, rhino poaching has stabilised despite escalating poaching pressure, and in the face of an increased and relentless rise in poaching activity in protected areas. The Department will issue an update on the implementation of the Integrated Strategic Management approach in due course.

In support of Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy, Green Scorpions from a range of institutions supported by other law enforcement and intelligence stakeholders, including SAPS, DAFF, SSA and SARS Customs, continued to implement the coordinated and integrated compliance and enforcement programme (Initiative 5). Initiative 5 of Phakisa focuses on the monitoring and associated enforcement of Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing activities, whale watching, shark cage diving, illegal activities within Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), pollution events, illegal effluent discharges, illegal structural developments within the terrestrial coastal zone, piracy, armed robbery at sea, human trafficking and smuggling, introduction of alien and invasive species through the ballast systems and all customs and excise requirements.

During this reporting period (2017/18), Phakisa Initiative 5 operated in the Northern, Western and Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal for the third consecutive year. Until 31 March 2018, a total of 32 joint operations were planned and executed. During these operations 7 842 searches were conducted, 999 establishments were visited and 5 410 operational activities took place. Members were deployed for a period of 207 days, with confiscations valued at more than R40, 4 million.  Fines to the value of R215 220 were issued and 302 cases registered. 

Although the 2017/18 NECER indicates a decrease in the number of criminal dockets registered by the Green Scorpions, from 1 527 in 2016/17 to 1 257 in 1017/18, the number of dockets finalised and handed to the NPA for prosecution increased to 446. 

There was a 9.4% increase in the number of warning letters issued, alongside an increase in the number of notices issued which ensure that non-compliances are addressed and improvements to the environment are effected.  The value of Section 24G administrative fines also increased to more than R10 million in the past year in respect of activities commenced with in the absence of the necessary environmental authorisations.

The execution of the compliance monitoring function of the Inspectorate resulted in 4 210 facilities being inspected.  Of these, 1 495 were reactive and were triggered by complaints. A total of 1 255 were based on environmental authorisations and permits, while 1 232 were considered routine inspections on prioritised sectors.

Access the NECER report by clicking on the link below:

» National Environmental Compliance & Enforcement Report 2017/18.

For media queries, contact:

Albi Modise
Cell: 083 490 2871