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Mfeka and Others v Nkawana and Others (28 February 2020)

19 March 2020

Case Number : AR33/2019

High Court: KwaZulu-Natal Division, Pietermaritzburg

Date of judgment: 28 February 2020

Judge: Bezuidenhout AJ with Madondo DJP and Moodley J concurring

Citation: Mfeka and Others v Nkawana and Others (AR33/2019) [2020] ZAKZPHC 6 (28 February 2020)

This matter was an appeal from the Pietermaritzburg High Court (single bench) in which the court considered the powers of members of a trust. The Bhangazi Trust had been set up to benefit members of the Bhangazi community who had been forcibly removed in the 1950s to establish a conservation area and to convert community land into plantations. In the court a quo, beneficiaries had applied for various orders relating to the mismanagement of the Trust including the failure of the trustees to submit financial statements since the inception of the Trust in 2001.

The Trust deed required that there be between seven and twenty trustees at all times. When the appeal was launched, there were only two official trustees (one of which passed away before the judgment was delivered). The remaining two trustees appealed against the high court judgment, but the full bench struck the appeal from the roll and ordered the remaining trustee to pay costs in his personal capacity. The reason for this order was that because the trustees had failed to maintain the required amount of trustees, the remaining two trustees had no authority to appeal on behalf of the Trust.

The judgment cites extensive precedent relating to the authority of trustees to act on behalf of a trust.

Read the judgment here.

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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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