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MEC lauds Green Scorpions

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“Facing the Future Together”

LEKGOTLA: The 8th Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Lekgotla started yesterday at the Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre. Picture: Danie van der Lith

THE GREEN Scorpions play a pivotal role in not only protecting the environment but also ensuring that millions of South Africans have a livelihood.

This was the message from the Northern Cape MEC for Environment and Nature Conservation, Nomandla Bloem, during an Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Lekgotla.

The three-day lekgotla, which is being held under the theme “Facing the Future Together”, got under way at the Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre in Kimberley yesterday.

Guests from as far as Zambia, Tanzania, Ghana and Namibia are attending the lekgotla, which is aimed at addressing and finding a collaborative solution to air pollution and chemical waste as well as litter and dumping.

Bloem applauded the Green Scorpions for assisting citizens to make a living. “In South Africa, more than two million people are directly dependent on the country’s natural resources for their income. These figures include almost 900 000 who work in agriculture, 600 000 who depend on fisheries and activities linked to our oceans, and almost 400 000 who rely on various aspects of the bio-diversity economy. Hundreds of thousands more are employed in the value chains associated with these industries. When we take into account that each of these breadwinners supports eight to 10 others, we start to understand the true significance of our natural resources to our economic and social well-being.

“By ensuring that we have an effective compliance and enforcement system, you promote the principle of environmental justice and instil respect for our regulatory system. Upholding environmental rights and combating environmental crime in all its forms contributes to our efforts as government to ensure social cohesion, safety and security,” said Bloem.

She pointed out that the entire planet feels the impact of climate change and its effects.

“We can all agree that since 2012, climate change, extreme weather events and water supply crises have consistently featured in the top five global risks in terms of both the likelihood of these events occurring and the consequences of their happening, with South Africa feeling the real impacts of these events.

“International studies are also estimating that the global production of plastic has increased from two million metric tons in 1950 to 380 million metric tons in 2015. Roughly two-thirds of all plastic ever produced has been released into the environment and remains there in some form, as debris in the oceans, as micro- or nano-particles in the air and agricultural soils, as microfibres in water supplies, or as micro-particles in the human body.”

Bloem said that various operations aimed at protecting the environment have been fruitful. “Operation Phakisa, the multi-departmental initiative led by the Department of Environmental Affairs and supported by the NATJOINTS structures, resulted in the confiscation of abalone worth
R21 317 365, rock lobster worth R675 050 and equipment used in the commission of illegal activities to the value of R5 052 160. This success happened within the space of 12 months.”

Bloem said that international operations also ensured that perpetrators against nature were brought to book. “South Africa’s participation in Interpol’s 30 days at sea involved environmental, fisheries, maritime and border agencies, national police, customs and port authorities and saw 49 detections of environmental violations addressed through enforcement notices. Ten cases of serious environmental non-compliance were dealt with through the criminal investigation process and a further 27 vessels with a gross tonnage of 1 250 214 tons were identified for focussed MARPOL inspections,” said Bloem.

The lekgotla will continue today.