Environmental duties

Mclaren Ian N.O and 3 others v Municipal Council of Windhoek and 2 Others (SA 33/2016) [2018] NASC 1 (17 January 2018);

Headnote and Holding: 

This was an appeal by a company and its liquidators against the decision of the lower court to dismiss their claim for the validity of a lease. The appellants claimed in the alternative that the decision of the respondent, the Municipal Council of Windhoek (“the council”) be reviewed and set aside. 

The main issues to be determined were, whether the council had validly cancelled the lease prior to the liquidators’ election to continue with it and whether the decision of the council was open to review by the court.

The respondent contended that the cancellation was caused by the appellants’ breach of a term of the contract, by discontinuance of its textile industry.  The respondent further contended that the appellants breached another term regarding sound environmental practices.

The court found that the respondent’s decision to terminate the lease was solely contractual and not administrative. On this basis therefore, the court held that the decision was not open to review on administrative law grounds.

Firstly, the court held that financial failure of a company, leading to liquidation, could not terminate a lease. Secondly, that the council failed to establish what the terms for an environmental friendly textile industry were. In conclusion, the court held that the company had in fact given notice to terminate the lease and that the notice was accepted by the respondent. Consequently, the lease had then ceased to exist.
Accordingly, the court dismissed the appeal with costs.

Wildlife Ranching Namibia v Minister of Environment and Tourism (A 86/2016) [2016] NAHCMD 110 (01 April 2016);

Headnote and Holding: 

This case interpreted the requirements to qualify for exemptions in s. 47(1) of the Nature Conservation Ordinance of 1975 that allow for the sale of game or game meat or the skins of game which is obviously under the age of one year.

The applicants sought to review a decision by the minister of environment and tourism that revoked and altered the terms of the gaming certificate issued for Erindi farm. The permit was altered to include that it did not apply to game kept in enclosures smaller than 1000 ha. The court found that in doing so, the minister equated the phrase ‘piece of land’ in s. 47(1) (ii) with the phrase ‘enclosure’. This consequently subjected ‘a farm’ to the same requirement governing ‘a piece of land’.

The court noted that not every piece of land in Namibia was a farm. It was held that the respondents’ interpretation of s. 47(1) exemptions was far-fetched. The court held that farms were required to be enclosed with a game-proof fence to qualify for the exemption while a piece of land required the land to be 1000 hectares and be enclosed with a game-proof fence. The court observed that Erindi farm was enclosed with a game-proof fence and should not be subjected to other requirements.

It was also held that the first respondent acted unlawfully for failing to give the applicants an opportunity to be heard.

Accordingly, the respondents were interdicted from enforcing the alterations in the certificate.

Auala v S (SA 42/2008) [2010] NASC 3 (27 April 2010);

Headnote and Holding: 

This Supreme Court case concerned an appeal against the ruling of the High Court that found the appellant guilty primarily on counts of: (1) theft of unpolished diamonds in contravention of section 74 of Act 13 of 1999; alternatively, possession of unpolished diamonds in contravention of section 30(11) of Act 13 of 1999; (2) robbery; (3) malicious damage to property; and 4) escaping before being locked up in contravention of section 51(1) of Act 51 of 1977. 

The appellant was primarily charged in the High Court for stealing unpolished diamonds and fleeing arrest. He was convicted on all the counts and sentenced to both a jail term and payment of fine

The appellant felt aggrieved and appealed to the Supreme Court mainly on the ground that the prosecution side failed to establish that the mining company was the lawful owner of the alleged stolen diamond. 

The court held that the evidence obtained from the surveillance cameras clearly showed that the unpolished diamond that the appellant was trying to steal was discovered and recovered from him.  The court held that he was caught right at the exit of the mining site. So generally, the mining company was the one licensed to exploit and trade the diamond in that area the court a quo was justified to take a judicial notice that the diamonds belonged to the complainant. 

The court therefore refrained from disturbing both the conviction and the sentence of the High Court, so the appeal was dismissed.