Green Scorpions show their sting

Posted by Laura Grant on April 8, 2008
Posted in Green News

Environment minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk praised the country’s Environmental Management Inspectors, aka Green Scorpions, yesterday, saying they had “worked hard to change the common perception in South Africa that government lacks the will to enforce our environmental legislation”.

The reporting of illegal activity, the enforcement of environmental legislation and actual enforcement results had increased dramatically in South Africa over the past two years, he told delegates at the 8th Conference on the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement in Cape Town.

The Green Scorpions were formed in 2005. South Africa now had 866 Inspectors in 15 institutions across the country, but more and better trained and equipped inspectors were needed, the minister said.

He highlighted encouraging results from the recently released second annual National Environmental Enforcement Report, which shows that:

● Environmental inspectors were investigating more than 1,756 criminal dockets or case files in 2007-8;
● Reported arrests by the Green Scorpions have increased from 898 in
2006-7 to more than 2,612 in 2007-8;
● Reported convictions of environmental criminals have increased from
134 in 2006-7 to 746 in 2007-8.

Van Schalkwyk said that the discrepancy between the number of criminal dockets and arrests, and the actual number of convictions was a cause for concern. “This indicates an urgent need for more effective investigations and for increased support from our National Prosecuting Authority for the prosecution of environmental crime,” he said.

He added that the department of environmental affairs and tourism was on the verge of signing a formal Standard Operating Procedure with the South African Police Service that would allow members of the Green Scorpions to carry their own criminal dockets or case files, and to hand those over for prosecution to the National Prosecuting Authority. He said this would allow for the more effective and efficient prosecution of environmental crime.

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