After nearly a decade of lobbying and sustained efforts by a small committee of dedicated environmentalists, the Magaliesberg has been declared a World Biosphere Reserve.
On the 2nd of April three years ago, the Centre for Environmental Rights had just opened its doors.
The first office was tiny, in Observatory, Cape Town. We had one staff member, one part-time volunteer, a telephone, a computer, some donated furniture and books, a website, one funder – and a mission: getting environmental rights onto the agenda, and providing the legal support that our stakeholders articulated so passionately in the consultation that preceded our establishment.
27 March 2013 was the closing day for comments on the draft Infrastructure Development Bill, introduced by Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel in the National Assembly last month, and designed to facilitate designation, authorisation and implementation of the special infrastructure projects (SIPs). Developments that can be declared as SIPs include all major infrastructure works of “significant economic or social importance” or that would “contribute substantially” to any government infrastructure development strategy, and expressly includes mines, oil and gas pipelines, refineries, and power stations – all developments that pose high risk to the environment.
A legal opinion has been prepared for the Centre for Environmental Rights by Kate Hofmeyr and Nick Ferreira on Class Actions in repsect of damages arising from mining activities.
While mines and mining operations can contribute to economic development and provide jobs, they can also bring about suffering for individuals and communities by causing damage to the land, water and air around them.
Individuals and communities living with the negative impacts of mining can fight back by taking steps to protect themselves, their homes, their livelihoods and their neighbours. The Centre for Environmental Rights has published a guide.
On 14 April Northern Farm's 2 000 Bovelder cattle go under the hammer. The Bovelder breed has been developed over decades on Northern Farm and it has played a major role in the beef industry, providing thousands of top quality genetic breeding stock all over Southern Africa.
The future of Northern Farm, a popular weekend recreation area where a system of dams and irrigation assist in filtering water from the water treatment plant, hangs in the balance.
The farm is productive, carrying 2000-strong herd of Bovelder cattle and 350 hectares of grazing, mealies and other crops. The farm is also equipped, including specifically nine centre pivots and other irrigation equipment. The 70 contract staff employed on the farm, are being laid off.
Residents left in the dark over AMD treatment
The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has been accused of “authorising pollution”, after its water quality tests for its acid mine drainage (AMD) plants in the Witwatersrand surpassed the government’s own water resource quality objectives.
Lauded for research on SA acid mine drainage
The launch of Acid mine drainage in South Africa: Development actors, policy impacts and broader implications, by Suvania Naidoo, took place on 10 February 2017. The book has proven to be a timely publication because of the incipient water crisis in South Africa. The event was hosted by Unisa’s Department of Development Studies in the College of Human Sciences. The guests were welcomed by the chair of the department, Prof Gretchen du Plessis, who expressed that “development studies is an ever-changing discipline and is a space where different issues converge”. She further stated that the book fills a void in our knowledge about acid mine drainage (AMD) and that the publication is “an example of hard work which results in big achievements”. This publication is the culmination of the findings of the research conducted for Naidoo’s master’s dissertation. The book focuses on assessing the responses of the various development actors involved in addressing the issues of AMD, and its socio-economic and developmental implications. Prof Dirk Kotzé, from the Department of Political Sciences at Unisa and programme director for the event, said that AMD research is generally analysed from highly technical, engineering, and natural science perspectives. He also said that the purpose of the publication was to identify and explain the different conceptual understandings of AMD and its implications. Kotzé acclaimed the publication as being one of the few cases where a social science approach successfully ventures into the domain of the natural sciences. Naidoo uses sustainable development and, specifically, environmental sustainability as the departure for this research, which is directly linked to water and food security. She said the book concentrates on AMD as “a phenomenon in water management in South Africa and its potential impact on sustainable development, as well as mining and the quality of water in South Africa and the impacts of AMD”. She emphasised that one of the most important contributions of her research is conceptual in nature and said “the manner in which AMD is defined determines how it is assessed as a water management, environmental, and social problem. It also means that the response to AMD is determined by how it is defined by government”. Naidoo highlighted that, while the South African government has made strong and valuable attempts to address the issues surrounding AMD, the conclusions of her research showed that there was no clear indication in policy as to what the socio-economic impacts caused by AMD are, and how they should be responded to. Keynote speaker, Mariette Liefferink, CEO of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, and a leading activist in this field, provided a detailed account of the historic and contemporary context of AMD. She alerted the audience to a significant fact that AMD dates as far back as 1903. She used a more current example to illustrate the impact of AMD on South Africa’s water systems by explaining how the problem of AMD in the West Rand Basin, Gauteng, was left untreated for almost 10 years. She said the immediate short-term treatment of AMD only commenced in 2012 and said that a feasibility study for the long-term treatment of this phenomenon was conducted in 2013 at a cost of R25m. Liefferink said that the long-term treatment plan for AMD was launched on 18 May 2016 but would only be implemented by 2020. She warned that this might have a significant impact on water security. She stressed that academics who employ their research for the benefit of society should be applauded and endorsed Naidoo’s publication as having a definite economic and social value impact. Zachary Romano, editor at Springer, New York, via a pre-recorded video, said: “Suvania’s research was a perfect candidate for our SpringerBriefs edition, in Earth Sciences, Geography and Environment at Springer Nature. This series is targeted at publishing interdisciplinary case-studies that speaks to larger issues, particularly from young researchers with promising careers. As South Africa’s water systems are under much stress from climate change and pollution already, this is a timely document and we are confident that many academics and professionals will find it to be a great resource”. He also said that the book proposal was reviewed by several leaders in the field, all of whom were impressed by the final product. He further mentioned that the publisher is looking forward to future collaborative work with Naidoo. The event was extremely well-attended by key stakeholders and experts in this field.
A new hard-hitting report from Harvard Law School details how South Africa has failed to meet its human rights obligations concerning gold mining in and around Joburg. Bonnie Docherty, who led the research, spoke to Sheree Bega
A report has been published by the Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic titled "The Cost of Gold: Environmental, Health, and Human Rights Consequences of Gold Mining in South Africa’s West and Central Rand. The reports states, "The complex web of responsible government agencies and repeated legislative changes to that organizational structure have impeded the development of a coordinated plan to deal with the negative effects of mining. The limited scope of action, inadequate attention to at-risk communities, and insufficient consideration of environmental concerns have undermined the completeness of any response."
JOHANNESBURG South Africa has failed to protect residents affected by pollution from contaminated water and mine dumps over more than 130 years of gold mining near Johannesburg, an independent investigation by the Harvard Law School said.
Rand Water tightens the taps in Gauteng
In the Midvaal suburb where Sipho Mosai lives, the gardens are lush and green because the sprinklers run all day. There's little sense of alarm at the fast-declining water levels in the Vaal water system after which the suburb is named.
The Federation for a Sustainable Environment has objected to the Water Use Licen...
Water affairs and sanitation minister Nomvula Mokonyane is in the cross-hairs of...