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The growth of industrialization has increased waste pollution, especially water pollution.

Industries and individuals produce pollutants that are discharged into waters.

Uncontrolled water pollution results in health hazards to human beings, animals and other

living things. Thus there is a need to impose water pollution control measures which can

reduce pollution to an extent where very little pollutants are discharged into waters. Many

states have enacted statutes for controlling water pollution, as they believe this is the best

way to impose measures to achieve the safety of waters.

Legislations impose measures, such as a permit and its conditions, that must be respected

to discharge pollutant or trade effluent into waters, otherwise the discharger becomes a

polluter and liable to criminal sanctions. Statutes create offences and penalties for water

polluters. They provide fines or imprisonment, or both, and severely punish a subsequent

offender. In most countries, a continuing offence is criminalised. Corporations, as well as

corporate officers, are punished for the offence of polluting waters or other

environmental crimes. This is because environmental law does not allow corporate

officers to hide behind the legal structure of the corporation.

Some measures such as remediation or clean-up orders are implemented before a

prosecution is engaged, in order to ensure the protection of the environment.

Environmental audit or service orders emphasise the protection of the environment and

may prevent future pollution of waters. Environmental service orders rectify one of the

John Kinamugire Dissertation Abstract 2008

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criticisms of fine or imprisonment, in that they fail to restore the environment to its

previous condition.

Most environmental crimes are caused not by a deliberate intention or negligence, but by

poor or ineffective management systems. As a result, environmental audit orders may be

used to detect and correct an inappropriate management system. Environmental law

should be a user-friendly and prosecution must be used as a last resort.

This dissertation examines offences and penalties for water pollution in South Africa, the

United Kingdom, the United States of America and Australia and offers a comparative

analysis and recommendations for South Africa. These countries have been selected not

only because they are developed and tend to have best laws, but they are also located in

different continents. The examination and analysis of how they provide offences and

penalties for water pollution gives a chance to South Africa to find recommendations on

how it may improve its legislation and maintain its water quality.

John Kinamugire Dissertation Abstract 2008

Available at: