Taking the Sting Out of the (Green) Scorpions’ Tail: Latest Developments in the Adjudication of Waste Management Enforcement Disputes

Authors Jenny Hall

ISSN: 2616-8499
Source: South African Journal of Environmental Law and Policy 2019, p. 73 – 101


Environmental management inspectors, the so-called Green Scorpions, have a constitutional imperative to play an important role in upholding the environmental right by taking enforcement action where there is non-compliance with environmental legislation. The courts play their role in giving effect to the environmental right in the way that they adjudicate disputes. When they view a dispute through rights-based glasses, their judgments can have profound implications for the everyday environmental experiences of ordinary South Africans. In that sense at least, the courts and the Green Scorpions ought to be allies as they are working towards the same goal, namely making sure that the environmental right is tangible to the public. This article discusses the High Court’s (Gauteng Division) adjudication of a dispute involving alleged non-compliance with a waste management licence. It highlights the implications of the court’s failure to locate the dispute in the context of the environmental right and discusses how the court’s interpretation of the compliance and enforcement provisions in environmental legislation drastically curtails the powers of the Green Scorpions in respect of waste management transgressions.