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Minister of Health and Welfare v Woodcarb

15 December 1995

High Court, Natal Provincial Division

Citation: 1996 (3) SA 155 (N)

Date: 15 December 1995

Judge: Hurt J

Legislation considered: Interim Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1993 and the Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act, 1965

Type of application: Application for an interdict

In this matter, the Minister of Health and Welfare obtained an interdict prohibiting Woodcarb (Pty) Ltd from carrying on a wood burning process. Significantly, the Court held that the Minister was entitled to approach court for an interdict despite the Atmospheric Pollution Act, 1965 not making provision for such a remedy. The Court also held that the pollution caused by Woodcarb in the prcess of burning wood in its Rheese burner was an infringement of the right to an environment which is not detrimental to health or well-being enshrined in section 29 of the Interim Constitution.

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Section 24 of 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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