The DEA Green Scorpions reported 1261 criminal cases, 293 prosecutions and 52 convictions among its 2016 environmental inspection statistics.
The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement report (NECER) for 2015-2016 details the work of the Environmental Management Inspectorate (EMI), or Green Scorpions.
Green Scorpions environmental inspection statistics
There has been a 0.8% increase in the number of environmental criminal dockets registered, to 1261. The number of criminal dockets handed to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for prosecution has increased by 14%, to 293 [thus about a quarter of the dockets].
The number of acquittals decreased from 6 to 5, and the number of convictions decreased by 20%, to only 52. There was also a decrease in the number of plea and sentence agreements, to 13.
The number of administrative notices has increased by 25.65%, to 916. There was a general decrease in the Section 24G administrative fines paid, to R8-m.
Compliance monitoring inspections increased by 27.6%, with 3687 facilities inspected, of which 2033 (55%) were inspected against pollution, waste and impact assessment laws, while 1196 (32%) were in biodiversity/protected areas; and 458 (12.5%) in the coastal management sector.
There has been a significant increase of 98.7% in pro-active inspections, to 2474. The reactive inspections amounted to 1224, a 178% increase.
The number of non-compliances detected during inspections increased to 2735, with 1678 in the pollution, waste and impact assessment subsector; 924 in coastal management; and 133 in biodiversity or protected areas, and required follow-on enforcement action.
The 2015-2016 National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report is available on https://www.environment.gov.za/sites/default/files/reports/necer2016.pdf
Environmental statistics reveal a slight increase in the number of environmental management inspectors, with a 5.1% growth in the number of Green Scorpions on the national register, from 2294 to 2411.
There are 236 municipal environmental management inspectors in South Africa; 67% or 1639 are Grade 5 inspectors, which are field rangers employed at national and provincial parks across the country; an increase of 339 rangers in the past year.
Most Grade 5 EMI field rangers are employed by SANParks (802); Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (605); Limpopo department of economic development, environment and tourism (269); and Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (158).
DEA trained magistrates
Green Scorpions capacity development included basic and specialised training for environmental management inspectors, including courses on biodiversity crime scene management, pollution and waste sampling; and barcode of wildlife voucher specimen sample taking courses.
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 been nominated to serve on INTERPOLS’ environmental compliance and enforcement executive committee and working groups (see a separate post on Interpol’s role in environmental law enforcement, on Sheqafrica.com).
“The report includes data from the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) compliance and enforcement on fresh water resources impacts, said the enforcement DDG Ishaam Abader.
Marine protection enforcement project
A pilot project was completed for Initiative 5 of the Marine Protection Services and Governance LAB, under the Oceans Economy Phakisa (service deliver project).
The operation involved 7 national departments, 3 provinces, 6 municipalities and 3 agencies, related to illegal fishing, whale watching, shark cage diving, off-road driving, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), pollution events, effluent discharge, developments in the terrestrial coastal zone, piracy, human trafficking, human smuggling, alien and invasive species through the ballast systems, as well as customs and excise requirements.
There is “a remarkable increase in visible policing that will continue in 2017, supported by NATJOINTS,” said Abader.
Alien and invasive species Regulations
The Green Scorpions have started a project against 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.
Waste tyre depots inspected
Following the promulgation of the Waste Tyre Regulations, the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa (REDISA) submitted an Integrated Industry Waste Tyre Management Plan.
In November 2016, national and provincial EMIs conducted compliance inspections at 20 registered sites across the country.
Following these inspections, 21 pre-compliance notices were issued to all the depot managers, as well as REDISA.
Rhino poachers jailed
Among the annual compliance and enforcement highlights in the annual report is rhino poaching, notably 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 firearm and ammunition and possession of dangerous weapon. The court sentenced accused 1 and 2 to 30 years direct imprisonment.
The three pillars of sustainable development are socio-economic growth; impacts on people; 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.
- The 2015-2016 National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report is available on https://www.environment.gov.za/sites/default/files/reports/necer2016.pdf