Highlights from the 2014/15 National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report

Submitted by: Nadia Shah, Monday, November 30, 2015

<p>The 2014/15 report is the seventh compliance and enforcement report that has been released since the inception of the Environmental Management Inspectorate also known as the Green Scorpions (Image Source: Department of Environmental Affairs)</p>

The 2014/15 report is the seventh compliance and enforcement report that has been released since the inception of the Environmental Management Inspectorate also known as the Green Scorpions (Image Source: Department of Environmental Affairs)

Despite an 8.5% increase in the number of criminal dockets registered for environmental crimes in the last year (from 1,861 in 2013/14 to 2,019 in 2014/15), the total number of arrests and convictions in the sector have decreased during the same period. This is according to the national Department of Environmental Affairs’ 2014/15 National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report (NECER) that was launched in Rustenburg earlier this month. The report provides an overview of environmental compliance and enforcement activities undertaken by various environmental authorities across the country. In addition the report includes summaries of environmental court cases and provides an update on environmental legislative developments, industrial and biodiversity compliance and enforcement, national environmental complaints, and emergency incidents.

Enforcement statistics

The table below shows the national enforcement statistics for the last three financial years recorded in the 2014/15 NECER report. As mentioned above, the number of criminal dockets registered have steadily increased in the last few years, but this has not translated into actual arrests and convictions, with arrests decreasing from 1,371 in 2013/14 to 1,259 in 2014/15, and convictions decreasing by 16.7% from 78 reported in 2013/14 to 65 in 2014/15. The number of cases handed to the National Prosecuting Authority has also decreased by 33% from 379 in 2013/14 to 253 in 2014/15. There has however been an increase in the number of warning letters issued from 228 in 2013/14 to 364 in 2014/15.

 

2012/13

2013/14

2014/15

Arrests by EMIs

1818

1371

1259

Criminal dockets registered

1488

1861

2019

Cases handed to National Prosecuting Authority

268

378

257

NPA declined to prosecute (“nolle prosequi”)

37

15

24

Section 105A agreements

14

11

15

Acquittals

8

5

6

Convictions

70

78

65

Number of admission of guilt fines issued

5825

1687

1390

Number of admission of guilt fines paid

993

854

686

Total value of fines paid

R654,250

R498,230

R 418,181

Warning letters issued

187

228

364

Pre-directives issued

84

95

111

Pre-compliance notices issued

333

400

436

Directives issued

36

60

57

Final compliance notices issued

124

154

125

Civil court applications launched

4

2

1

Total value of administrative fines

R5,385,215

R12,517,026

R14,005,423

Total number of administrative fines

49

73

100

Compliance monitoring

During the reporting period a total of 2,889 facilities were inspected, of which 58.97% (1,706) were in relation to environmental impact and pollution requirements, 40.79% (1,180) were in the biodiversity subsector and 0.24% (7) were inspected regarding marine and coastal issues. The total number of non-compliances detected during inspections increased by a significant 41.45% from 1,539 in 2013/14 to 2,177 in 2014/15.

Highest sentences in 2014/15

The highest sentence of direct imprisonment without a fine option was recorded for a case against an individual who was in the possession of R21 million worth of ivory. The accused was sentenced to 10 years direct imprisonment. The highest sentence for a pollution and waste case was recorded against Samancor Chrome Ltd for the operation of a disposal site and disposing of waste without the requisite waste authorisations. The company was sentenced to a R200,000 fine, and was ordered to pay an additional R700,000 to the DEA to invest in a nearby school that was impacted by the pollution, as well as R1,000,000 to the DEAs Inspectorate, and R100,000 in prosecution costs.

Environmental Management Inspectorate

The NECER also highlights the investment the DEA has made in training and equipping Environmental Management Inspectors (EMI), also known as the Green Scorpions, to investigate environmental crimes and monitor environmental compliance. The number of green scorpions increased by 19.8% in the last year with 2,294 EMIs now registered nationally.

Environmental incident and crime hotline

Members of the public are encouraged by the Department of Environmental Affairs to report environmental incidents and crimes to their 24 hour hotline on 0800 205 005.

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