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Mining

Somkhele Anthracite Mine

CER as Amicus Curiae in re: Global Environmental Trust, Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation and Mr Sabelo Dladla v Tendele Coal Mining, Ingonyama Trust and others

In October 2018 judgment was handed down in a matter where the Global Environmental Trust, the Mfolozi Environmental Justice Organisation and Mr Sabelo Dladla (the Applicants) had applied for an interdict restraining Tendele Coal Mining (Pty) Ltd from continuing its coal mining operations at the Somkhele anthracite mine in KwaZulu-Natal near the border of the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Nature Reserve. The Applicants had asserted that Tendele Coal Mining did not have all the necessary environmental authorisations required for its operations and that it was therefore mining illegally.

Finding that the mine did not lack the necessary environmental authorisations, the High Court dismissed their application, and ordered the Applicants to pay the mine’s legal costs.   Global Environmental Trust, the Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation and Mr Sabelo Dladla applied for permission to appeal that judgment.

CER took issue with both the High Court’s interpretation of the law as well as the costs order against the Applicants in circumstances where they acted in the public interest and sought to vindicate their Constitutional rights. CER therefore applied for leave to intervene as amicus curiae in the application for leave to appeal, the hearing of which was held in September 2019.

The CER was granted permission to be admitted as amicus in the leave to appeal application and the applicants were granted permission to appeal the judgement in the Supreme Court of Appeal.

An additional amicus curiae, consisting of the Mpukunyoni Traditional Council, Mpukunyoni Community Mining Forum, Association of Mine Workers and Constructions Union and the National Union of Mine Workers, was also admitted in the matter.

The SCA appeal was heard on 3 November 2020 and we are currently awaiting judgement.

Judgment on Application for CER to intervene as Amicus and Application for Leave to Appeal in the High Court  (17 September 2019). Judge Seegobin of the Kwazulu-Natal High Court (Pietermaritzburg Division) ordered that:

  • The CER is granted leave to intervene in the proceedings as Amicus Curiae;
  • The Applicants and CER are granted leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal; and
  • The costs of the application for leave to appeal will be costs in the appeal.

Judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeal on the application for CER to be admitted as Amicus (13 February 2020)

Pleading in the Supreme Court of Appeal

Centre for Environmental Rights’ Amicus papers

Additional applications for admission of amici

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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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