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uMfolozi Sugar Planters Ltd and others v isiMangaliso Wetland Park Authority and others

1 October 2018

Supreme Court of Appeal 

Citation: Umfolozi Sugar Planters Limited v Isimangaliso Wetland Park Authority (873/2017) [2018] ZASCA 144 (1 October 2018)

Date: 1 October 2018

Judges: Ponnan, Mbha, Dambuza, Makgoka JJA and Mokgohloa AJA

This matter concerned the artificial breaching of the uMfolozi River. The applicants contended that the isiMangaliso Wetland Park Authority was obliged to artificially breach the Mfolozi River to avoid backflooding, which adversely affected its sugarcane plantations. uMfolozi Sugar Planters Ltd applied to court for an interdict compelling iSiMangaliso Wetland Park Authority to take account of its obligations to prevent and drain down back flooding on its farms when taking environmental decisions.

The High Court (see below) decided in favour of iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority. Between that decision and the case on appeal, iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority published its Integrated Management Plan (IMP) for iSimangaliso Wetland Park as well as the Estuarine Management Plan (EMP) for the Mfolozi River mouth. The Supreme Court of Appeal held that the relief the applicants sought had become moot since IMP and EMP had been adopted in the meanwhile. the appeal was dismissed.

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High Court of the Republic of South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal Division, Durban 

Case No. 7942/2015

Date: 21 April 2017

Judge: Moodley J

This matter concerned the artificial breaching of the uMfolozi River. The applicants contended that the isiMangaliso Wetland Park Authority was obliged to artificially breach the uMfolozi River to avoid backflooding, which adversely affected its sugarcane plantations. The application was dismissed with costs. Amongst the legislation considered was the World Heritage Convention Act, 1999, the National Water Act, 1998 and the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act, 2008.

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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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