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Wilkinson and another v National Director of Public Prosecutions and others

5 June 2019

High Court of the Republic of South Africa, Gauteng Division, Pretoria 

Case no. 50396/2016

Date: 5 June 2019

Judge: Molefe J

This matter concerned the constitutionality of certain “reverse onus” provisions in the Transvaal Nature Conservation Ordinance, 1983. The Court held that the applicants raised the issue prematurely and therefore dismissed the application for those provisions to be declared unconstitutional. However, the Court also handed down an obiter dictum that those provisions are constitutionally valid. It found that the infringement on the applicants’ right to a fair trial is justified by the importance of wildlife conservation in the South African context (and given that it is a constitutional imperative – under section 24 of the Constitution).

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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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