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Green scorpions embark on national sand mining blitz

19 August 2014


Environmental Management Inspectors (commonly known as the Green Scorpions) from the national and various provincial Environment departments will embark on a sand mining blitz across the country. The days of the blitz are undisclosed to ensure greater impact.

This is a joint national and provincial compliance and enforcement initiative which is aimed at addressing the environmental and water aspects of unlawful sand mining operations.  The damage caused by these operators has been identified as one of the key drivers of biodiversity loss. The impact on the environment is the end result of many of these unlawful operators exploiting the resource and abandoning sites without implementing any form of rehabilitation once the resource is depleted.  Irreparable degradation to the environment often results from these illegal activities which become a legacy which future generations will need to address.

The national project focusing on illegal sand mining activities commenced as a pilot in 2010 in the Limpopo province and has subsequently been conducted, over the last 3 years, in the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape, Mpumalanga, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Gauteng.

The latest blitz in the project is a collaborative effort with the Department of Mineral Resources and the Department of Water and Sanitation, in certain provinces, whose respective mandates are also triggered by these unlawful activities.  Previous operations focusing on this sector have revealed elements of organised criminal activity which is often extremely hostile.  Many of these unlawful operators conduct activities without any form of authorisation.

Green Scorpions from the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning and the national department engaged in enforcement activities earlier this month, which resulted in the confiscation of heavy duty machinery used in the removal of sand.  The investigation is currently at an advanced stage and will be enrolled for prosecution soon.

The Department of Environmental Affairs will issue a media statement reflecting the consolidated outcomes from the enforcement activities in the participating provinces, upon completion of the blitz.

For media queries contact:

Janine Hambury
Cell: 082 643 1609