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Case against Tendele Coal in the Supreme Court of Appeal tomorrow

2 November 2020 at 4:17 pm

Photo: Rob Symonds
Photo: Rob Symonds

On Tuesday, 3 November 2020 at 9:45, the Supreme Court Appeal in Bloemfontein will hear the appeal by the Global Environmental Trust and others against a 2018 judgement of the Pietermaritzburg High Court, in which that court had refused to grant an interdict application brought by the Applicants against Tendele Coal Mining (Pty) Ltd and had ordered public interest litigants to pay the legal costs of the coal mining company.

The court hearing is of particular significance because of the shocking murder of 65 year old Fikile Ntshangase at her home in Somkhele, KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday, 22 October 2020. Mam Ntshangase was a member of the Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation (MCEJO), one of the applicants in the appeal, and a vocal activist against the expansion of the anthracite mine near the border of the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve.

The court papers can be accessed here: https://cer.org.za/programmes/mining/litigation/somkhele-anthracite-mine

Parties and their legal representatives:

  • Appellants: Global Environment Trust and Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation represented by Tembeka Ngcukaitobi SC and Adv Mawande Mazibuko
  • Respondents:  Tendele Coal Mining (Pty) Ltd represented by Peter Lazarus SC and Adv Nick Ferreira
  • Amici Curiae (friends of the court):
    • Centre for Environmental Rights, represented by Max DuPlessis SC, Adv Toni Palmer and Adv Sanelisiwe Lushaba
    • Mpukunyoni Traditional Council, Mpukunyoni Community Mining Forum, Association of Mine Workers & Construction Union and National Union of Mine Workers, represented by Dennis Sibuyi (attorney)

On 13 February 2020, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) admitted the Centre for Environmental Rights as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the appeal. The CER intervened in the matter because of its concerns that the judgment opened the door for mining companies to operate illegally. The CER is also concerned that the negative costs order against public interest litigants would discourage communities from approaching the courts to defend their constitutional rights through the fear of being debilitated by having to pay the legal costs of industry and the State. This would have a chilling effect on Constitutional litigation.

END

Media queries:

Resources:

On Tendele Coal Mining Pty Ltd and its anthracite mine at Somkhele, KwaZulu-Natal:

On activist threats, intimidation and killings:

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Section 24of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

Everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent pollution and ecological degradation; promote conservation; and secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.

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