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ADDRESS BY THE DEPUTY MINISTER AT THE OPENING OF THE TRAINING

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ADDRESS BY THE DEPUTY MINISTER AT THE OPENING OF THE TRAINING Powered By Docstoc
					ADDRESS BY THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND
TOURISM Ms REJOICE MABUDAFHASI, AT THE 1st ENVIRONMENTAL
ENFORCEMENT CONFERENCE.

                       ELANGENI SOUTHERN SUN HOTEL,
                          DURBAN, KWAZULU NATAL
                             22 FEBRUARY 2006

Your Excellency the British High Commissioner for South Africa, the Right
Honourable Mr Boateng,
Director-General of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism,
Heads of Provincial Departments,
Partners from the Environment Agency of England and Wales,
Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

It is with great pleasure that I address you on this auspicious occasion of our first
Environmental Enforcement Conference. Enforcement of our environmental
legislation is of great importance not only to us as the department, but to the country
as a whole. On many occasions I have witnessed rocks graffited, trees cut, rotten
egg smell from industries that pollute our air and other environmental problems.
These environmental crimes damage our people’s quality of life.

I am sure you are aware of Thor Chemicals and the unfortunate incidences that
resulted in the loss of lives, deterioration of health of our people and many other
ailments. Many people who live and work in air pollution hotspots also face the same
problems. I am sure that this conference and many other efforts by government to put
our environmental enforcement regime on par with international standards will
liberate our people out of the conditions they found themselves in.

The successful prosecution of the Mandara case is a classical example, and I am
informed that the department through our tip off hotline has received a lot of
complaints and officials in the Enforcement Unit are following on them.

However, Programme Director, we could not have done this alone. Since 2003, the
Department has developed a partnership with the Environment Agency in the U.K.
This partnership has now been formalised into a three-year work programme. The
work programme is funded by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office,
represented here today by his Excellency the British High Commissioner, and we are
very thankful for that High Commissioner.

The work programme is supportive of the capacity-building work done by the
Department’s Environmental Management Inspectorate. In particular, Environment
Agency officials have worked closely with officials from the Department to develop
the Environmental Management Inspectors Bridging Training course currently being
rolled out.
To this extent, they have shared their experience of both enforcement, and training,
and two officials from the Environment Agency participated in two of the training
sessions held previously in Pretoria and Johannesburg.

In addition to the Agency’s support for this Conference and the Environmental
Enforcement Communications Workshop that takes place on Friday, a prosecutor
from the Environment Agency will also participate in a workshop for magistrates on
environmental crimes which will take place soon. I am reliably informed that Agency
officials also share their expertise with our officials on a weekly basis on a range of
issues.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the important role of support that
the Environment Agency has played in our capacity-building programme. I can only
hope that this partnership will continue to our mutual benefit, and the benefit of the
environment in South Africa.

Programme Director, In July 2005, at the start of our first prosecutor training course, I
announced an annual award of excellence for an outstanding contribution by a
prosecutor of environmental crimes. A call for nominations was published in
December 2005.

The published criteria for this award are the following:
    the successful prosecution of a significant, precedent-setting environmental
      case in the past year;
    a track record of successful prosecution of several smaller environmental
      cases over the past three years;
    a track record of a high prosecution success rate in environmental cases over
      the past three years;
    obtaining a significant or particularly innovative sentence in the prosecution of
      an environmental crime in the past year; and/or
    a long-term commitment to capacity-building for the successful prosecution of
      environmental crimes, including relationship-building with investigators,
      Environmental Management Inspectors and any other law enforcement
      agencies involved with environmental enforcement.

Our department received nominations of eight prosecutors for this award. The
nominations were evaluated by a panel consisting of the Deputy National Director of
Public Prosecutions, Dr Silas Ramaite; the Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Law of the
University of Kwazulu-Natal, Prof Michael Kidd; and our Director of Enforcement in
the Department, Melissa Fourie.

The recipient of the 2005 Annual Award of Excellence for an Outstanding
Contribution to the Prosecution of Environmental Crimes received no less than
three separate nominations: from the Senior Public Prosecutor at the Durban
Magistrates’ Court, from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and from the KZN provincial SAPS.
He has made an extraordinary contribution to the prosecution of environmental



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crimes, particularly wildlife crimes, over the past ten years.

More specifically, the recipient holds the astonishing record of a 100% prosecution
success rate over the past 10 years. He has a convincing track record on a series of
successful environmental prosecutions, and has led the prosecutions of several
successful precedent-setting environmental cases.


The evaluation panel was provided with evidence of a number of innovative
sentences, and a passionate commitment to building relationships and supporting all
role players in the prosecution of environmental crimes, including magistrates, other
prosecutors and investigators.

Programme Director I am now happy to announce the name of, Mr Robert
Mortassagne [Mor-tu-sahn], prosecutor at the Durban Magistrate’s Court as our
inaugural winner of the annual award of excellence for an outstanding contribution by
a prosecutor of environmental crimes.

To you we say congratulations and well done. May we learn from you and continue to
make this country of ours worth living in.

Thank you.




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