Fishing activities

Green Scorpions increases the level of compliance and enforcement activities

The Green Scorpions, which have a mandate to protect the environment by enforcing legislation, over the past fiscal year have maintained and in some cases even increased the level of compliance and enforcement activities.

This according to statistics presented in the National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report, which was officially released on Monday.

Environmental crimes include illegal dumping of hazardous waste, illegal deep-sea fishing, ivory smuggling and illegal real estate developments.

“Criminal investigations into environmental crimes increased by 7.6% in the past financial year, with 952 criminal cases registered. A total of 1091 admission of guilt fines worth R408,730.00 were paid – a 6.6% increase – while 838 people were arrested,” said Deputy Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment Makhotso Sotyu.

Sotyu was addressing the 9th Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Lekgotla held in Gauteng from November 14-17, 2022 under the theme: “Facing Uncharted Waters: New Challenges and Solutions For The Green Scorpions”.

“There was a 262.5% increase in the number of convictions for environmental crimes, from 16 to 58 in the past fiscal year. Six plea agreements were reached and 129 warning letters were issued” , she said.

In 2021/22, 4,171 facilities were inspected as part of the Green Scorpions compliance monitoring function.

“Of the 4,171 inspections, 2,918 were to verify compliance with environmental authorizations and/or permits, strategic and routine inspections, and 1,253 were reactive investigations triggered by complaints. In total, 1,123 inspections related to the Section 30 of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA), including toxic discharges and illegal discharges,” the Deputy Minister said.

Sotyu welcomed the increase in environmental compliance and enforcement activities, which were carried out despite budget cuts.

This achievement comes at a time when the country’s economy is experiencing a downturn and other priorities are competing for resources, limiting the ability to fill key positions and fund day-to-day operations.

The annual report noted a decrease of more than 5% in the number of national and provincial environmental management inspectors (EMIs), from 3,158 in the 2020/21 financial year to 2,995 in the last exercise.

The Deputy Minister encouraged the Environmental Management Inspectorate to seek new and innovative solutions to overcome the challenges of budgetary constraints and continue to protect the environment in a way that does not harm health and well-being. well-being of the citizens of the country.

“It is in this context that the 9th Lekgotla National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Program will give you the opportunity to freely explore potential solutions and how best to implement them,” Sotyu said. .

These include developing a new national compliance and enforcement strategy, improving cooperative governance, both with other regulators, as well as continuing partnerships with non-governmental sectors. and private.

They were also encouraged to share best practices with other countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), implement the increased use of information technology to optimize compliance efforts and of application, as well as the development of key skills in the areas of development.

(With contributions from the South African government press release)