Department of Environmental Affairs releases the 2013/14 National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report

Submitted by: Nadia Shah, Tuesday, November 4, 2014

<p><em>The 2013/14 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).</em></p>

The 2013/14 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).

The number of reported cases of environmental crimes is on the rise. This is according to the seventh National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report (NECER) which notes a 34.52% increase in the number of reported environmental incidents, from 4479 in 2012/13 to 6025 in 2013/14. The report, recently released by the Department of Environmental Affairs, provides an overview of environmental compliance and enforcement activities undertaken by Green Scorpions at national, provincial and local levels of government across the country from the 01 April 2013 to 31 March 2014.

The report details the distribution of Environmental Management Inspectors (also known as Green Scorpions) and provides an overview of compliance and enforcement statistics on a national and provincial level as well as per institution. 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.

Common environmental crimes

According to the report the most prevalent types of environmental crimes detected by various EMI Institutions display a similar pattern to the previous year’s findings, “For the “brown” sub-sector, the unlawful commencement of environmental impact assessment listed activities continued to be the most common non-compliance, while in the “green” sub-sector, illegal hunting continued to be the predominant environmental crime”.

Crimes related to the illegal hunting of Rhinoceros is of particular concern. “Despite the handing down of a number of heavy sentences to those perpetrators involved in illegal rhino hunting activities, the numbers of animals poached continues to escalate at an unacceptable level,” says Ishaam Abader, Deputy Director-General of Legal, Authorisations, Compliance and Enforcement Branch at the Department of Environmental Affairs, in the foreword of the report. The graph below depicts the total number of Rhinoceros poached in South Africa over the past four years and the number of arrests that were made for Rhino-related offences. 

Compliance Monitoring

The report explains that “conducting compliance monitoring inspections to ascertain whether or not the regulated community is complying with the relevant legislative provisions, as well as with any and all authorisations, licences and permits issued in terms of this legislation, plays a critical role in ensuring continued compliance. Without effective compliance monitoring activities, non-compliance may go undetected and thus the necessary enforcement action in the case of non-compliance would, in many cases, not be perused”. 

It is interesting to note that while the total number of non-compliances detected during inspection has decreased by 61.23% from 2482 in 2012/13 to 1539 in 2013/14, those that require enforcement action have increased by 18.3%, from 524 in 2012/13 to 623 in 2013/14. The report details investigations into non-compliance that were conducted at facilities owned by Eskom, Sasol, Sappi, BHP Billiton, Exxaro Base Metals and Arcelor Mittal, among others.

Enforcement

The table below shows the national enforcement statistics for the last three financial years (DEA, 2014. National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report).

Criminal Enforcement

 

2011/12

2012/13

2013/14

Arrests by EMIs

1339

1818

1371

Criminal dockets registered

1080

1488

1861

Cases handed to National Prosecuting Authority

201

268

378

NPA declined to prosecute (“nolle prosequi”)

20

37

15

Section 105A agreements

13

14

11

Acquittals

7

8

5

Convictions

82

70

78

Number of admission of guilt fines issued

1498

5825

1687

Number of admission of guilt fines paid

759

993

854

Total value of fines paid

R470,080.00

R654,250.00

R498,230.00

Administrative Enforcement and Civil Actions

 

2011/12

2012/13

2013/14

Warning letters issued

459

187

228

Pre-directives issued

86

84

95

Pre-compliance notices issued

276

333

400

Directives issued

49

36

60

Final compliance notices issued

110

124

154

Civil court applications launched

7

4

2

Total value of administrative fines

R17,627,233.00

R5,385,215.00

R12,517,026.00

Total number of administrative fines

86

49

73

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.

The 2013/14 National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report is available for download from the Department of Environmental Affairs’ website.

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