The Department of Environmental Affairs welcomes the outcome of a judgement by the Nelspruit Regional Court in the matter: State Vs Nkomati Anthracite (Pty) Ltd

29 August 2013


The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) today, 29 August 2013 welcomed the outcome of the matter between the State vs Nkomati Anthracite (Pty) Ltd in which the latter pleaded guilty in the Nelspruit Regional Court to eight charges under the National Environmental Management Act, Act 107 of 1998 (NEMA) and the National Water Act, Act 36 of 1998 (NWA) respectively. In so doing, the accused admitted that it had acted wrongfully and negligently in each of the counts.

The contraventions, as it relates to the NEMA, includes amongst others activities wherein the  accused unlawfully engaged in restricted activities within a watercourse such as the dredging, excavation, infilling, removal or moving of soil, sand or rock, exceeding five cubic meters. In addition, the accused unlawfully removed indigenous vegetation of approximately 24 hectares and constructed roads and infrastructure within an environmentally sensitive environment in the absence of the necessary environmental authorisations. In addition to the above, the accused was also charged under the National Water Act for unlawfully diverting the flow of water, storing water and disposing of waste in such a manner that would result in detrimental harm to the environment.

In settling this matter the DEA stressed the importance of wetlands and the critical role that it performs relative to the continuous supply of water as well as its contribution in relation to biodiversity conservation.  The DEA further took into account South Africa’s international commitments, being a party to the RAMSAR convention, and the obligation that this convention imposes on the DEA to ensure that South Africa’s reputation in relation to wetland conservation is not jeopardised. Attached to the importance of wetlands was also the recognition that South Africa is considered to be a water scarce country and every effort has to be made to conserve water resources in its ecologically functioning state as far as possible for the benefit of future generations, a position that promotes the fundamental principles set out in NEMA.

Most importantly, however, is the emphasis that this ruling places on the importance of complying with environmental legislation. In addition to a fine of R1 million which was suspended, Nkomati Anthracite (Pty) Ltd was instructed to  pay a sum of R4 million to the DEA’s Environmental Management Inspectorate for the purpose of the proper execution of enforcement duties, environmental rehabilitation and enforcement training.

“This ruling sends a strong message to would-be offenders that the Department takes the enforcement of environmental legislation seriously,” said Albi Modise, spokesperson for the Department of Environmental Affairs.

For media queries, contact:

Albi Modise
Cell: 083 490 2871