Getting away with murder Print E-mail
News - Aktueel
Thursday, 21 January 2010 11:51
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People are getting away with murder when it comes to environmental crimes.

The number of cases in which the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) declined to prosecute increased from 16 in 2007/08 to 100 in 2008/09 and the number of convictions decreased from 748 in 2007/08 to 258 in 2008/09.

However, during the 2008/09 reporting year, 4 661 environmental cases were reported. A total of 2 412 environmental criminal dockets were registered compared to 1 762 in 2007/08.

This information was revealed in the National Compliance and Enforcement Report (NCER), released late last year by Minister for Water and Environmental Affairs Buyelwa Sonjica.

The decrease in convictions is a cause for concern, particularly in light of the increase in the total number of criminal dockets registered and the fact that more Green Scorpions have been appointed – an increase from 866 to 903 on the national register.

According to Sonjica, the delays in the prosecution system are due to the lack of dedicated environmental courts and prosecutors. Sonjica said that the planned establishment of such courts will have a profound impact on the fight against environmental crimes.

More bad news is that fines paid to rectify the illegal starting of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) listed activities, have more than doubled. It went from about R6,8 million to nearly R15,5 million in one year.

Members of the public are urged to report environmental incidents and crimes to the 24-hour hotline number: 0800-205-005.

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