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West Coast Environmental Protection Association v Minister: Department of Water and Sanitation and others

20 November 2017

Water Tribunal 

Case No. WT 01/17/WC

Date: 20 November 2018

Corum: Prof T. Murombo

This matter concerned condonation for the late submission of an appeal to the Water Tribunal in terms of the National Water Act, 1998. Kropz Elandsfontein (Pty) Ltd (Kropz) applied for and was granted water use licence for its mining operation near the West Coast National Park. The West Coast Environmental Protection Association (Association) launched an appeal against the decision of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) to grant a water use licence to Kropz, but the appeal was launched two days out of time (which happened to be a Saturday and Sunday) and it therefore applied for condonation for late launching of the appeal. Kropz opposed the application for condonation.

The Water Tribunal granted condonation for the late filing of the appeal, despite the Association not proffering a “strong” explanation for its delay. The factors that persuaded the Water Tribunal to find in the Association’s favour were the significant delay on the part of the DWS to provide the Association with all of the relevant documentation and the fact that the Association’s appeal discloses a prima facie basis to challenge the decision to grant the water use licence.

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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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