Judicial Review

Agnes Kahimbi Kashela v Katima Mulilo Town Council and Others (SA 15/2017) [2018] NASC 409 (16 November 2018);

Headnote and Holding: 

This was an appeal against a decision of the High Court to dismiss the appellant’s claim for loss of occupation of communal land. Her second claim was that the land was unlawfully expropriated without compensation by the respondents.

The court determined whether or not the appellant had acquired a valid customary law tenure right in the land in dispute and whether this right was unlawfully interfered with. Further, whether any liability attached to the council arising from its interference with that right.

The first respondent (“the council”), contended that the land belonged to it and had ceased to be communal land thus extinguishing communal land tenure. The court found that the appellant acquired and held a customary land tenure right and the state’s succession to the communal land did not extinguish communal land tenure but the state simply held the land in trust for the affected communities.

The court established that the Constitution guaranteed the enforcement of customary land rights. The court therefore, concluded that the appellant had an exclusive right to the use and occupation of the land in dispute; and that the right attached to the land even after its proclamation as town land.

Accordingly, they court upheld the appeal with costs in favour of the appellant. The matter was remitted to the High Court for the adjudication of the appellant’s claim of unjust enrichment and compensation.

Uazengisa and Another v Mukuambi and 4 Others (A 298/2015) NAHCMD 353 (06 December 2017);

Headnote and Holding: 

In this case, the applicants sought to enforce the decision of the Royal House of Chief Kambazembi (a traditional authority), that allocated communal land to them.

Following the continued occupation of the three square kilometres of the land by the first and second respondents, the applicants decided to enforce the decision by the traditional authority in the court. 

The court analysing s. 24-26 of the Communal Land Reform Act, Act 5 of 2002 held that the traditional authority had the power to allocate customary land rights. However, upon the allocation of a customary land right, the applicant was required to notify the land board for registration of the land. The court observed that the applicant failed to do so and thus failed to establish a right that was capable of enforcement by the court.

Accordingly, the application was dismissed, and the applicants were directed to pay costs of the first and second respondents jointly and severally.

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.

McLaren NO v The Municipal Council of Windhoek (A110/2009) [2016] NAHCMD 161 (06 August 2016);

Headnote and Holding: 

The applicants sought to review and set aside the decision of the first respondent to cancel a lease agreement concluded by the 4th applicant after the 4th applicant disregarded environmental standards on wastewater discharge per the agreement.

The court determined whether the first to third applicants’ irregular appointment as liquidators deprived them of locus standi (capacity) to seek review. It was held that these applicants had the required locus standi.

The court also determined whether the application was brought in reasonable time given the delay in filing the application after becoming aware of the cancellation of the lease. It was noted that there is no prescribed time for the institution of review proceedings. However, the court found that the applicants failed to explain the delay and held it to be unreasonable.

The court held that the relationship between the 4th applicant and first respondent was a contractual relationship. The court considered whether the Municipality validly cancelled the lease agreement before the liquidators’ election to continue with the lease agreement. The court considered clause 16.1 of the agreement and observed that the agreement required no formalities for cancellation. It applied the test of whether a reasonable person would conclude that the proper performance will not be forthcoming and held that the Municipality had a right to cancel the lease.

It was also held that the review relief sought was unsustainable since the decision to cancel the agreement did not constitute reviewable administrative action despite being made by a person who would ordinarily perform administrative functions.

The applicants abandoned their claim for declaratory order to exercise an improvement lien and moved for amendment of the relief in prayer 3. However, the amendment was not requested or granted. Hence the two prayers were dismissed.

Accordingly, the matter was dismissed 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.

Erindi Ranch (Pty) Ltd v Government of the Republic of Namibia and Others (A 72/2011) [2011] NAHC 330 (11 November 2011);

Headnote and Holding: 

The matter dealt with a delay by the respondents to issue a permit for the import into Namibia of elephants published in Government Gazette No. 4236, Notice 60, dated 1 April 2009. 

The court considered whether the delay was ultra vires the provisions of the Nature Conservation Ordinance No. 4 of 1975. The respondents conceded that the moratorium was ultra vires the ordinance and accordingly, the court agreed with their concession.
The court considered further, whether it should make an order directing the second respondent to issue the required permit to the applicant. The principle to be applied in the circumstances was that the court had discretion once it set aside an administrative decision to take the decision itself and this discretion was to be exercised judicially. The court observed that the second respondent had not yet decided whether to grant or deny the application and that the second respondent was better positioned to decide because it was privy to factual material which the court was not. Accordingly, the court held that it could not order the second respondent to issue the permit to the applicant.
The court considered whether the applicant and second respondent entered into a valid agreement. The test to be applied was to inspect the intention of the parties. The court concluded that whilst the applicant and second respondent had discussed and agreed upon some conditions, those were not intended to be the only conditions. Accordingly, the court held that no valid agreement was concluded.

Uffindell t/a Aloe Hunting Safaris v Government of Namibia and Others ((P) A. 141/2000 ) ((P) A. 141/2000) [2009] NAHC 51 (20 April 2009);

Headnote and Holding: 

This was an application to review the minister’s decision that differentiated the manner of issuing the sale of trophy hunting concessions as between the applicant and fourth respondent.

The applicant succeeded in obtaining an order to show cause (rule nisi) and an interim interdict of the reliefs in their application to prohibit the implementation of the concessions.

The applicant’s locus standi was challenged during the proceedings. The court applied the reasonable person test and held that the applicant was an ‘aggrieved person’ whose fundamental rights had been infringed or threatened to be infringed.

The court considered whether the minister violated the applicant’s right to equality and held that the minister acted fairly; since the decision was made to redress the injustice of the fourth respondent and did not violate the cabinet’s policy or the constitutional principle of equality.

The court also considered whether the decision violated the applicant’s right to administrative justice as per the concept of legitimate expectation of a hearing. The court applied the rule that the court should consider the existence of a duty to act fairly. The court held that the principles of a sale by private treaty did not require the minister to afford all professional hunters an opportunity to be heard. Having found that the concession was legally granted, the court did not deal further with the issue on violation of the freedom of economic activity.

Accordingly, the court dismissed the application for interdictory relief and made an order as to costs.

Purity Manganese (Pty) Ltd v Minister of Mines and Energy and Others Global Industrial Development (Pty) Ltd v Minister of Mines and Energy and Another ([P] A 04/2007) [2009] NAHC 40 (19 January 2009);

Headnote and Holding: 

This was a consolidated case where the court dealt with the issue of delay in instituting review of the decision of the minister of mines and energy to refuse the renewal of an Exclusive Prospecting Licence (EPL). 

The court considered the issue of delay and not the merits of the refusal to renew licence. The court applied the rule in Disposable Medical Products v Tender Board of Namibia 1997 NR 129 HC where the court held that an inquiry to determine ‘reasonableness’ should be factual and the court can only exercise its discretion after making a conclusion that the delay was unreasonable. The court also considered the scope and object of the Minerals (Prospecting and Mining) Act, No 33 of 1992 with regard to compliance with specific timelines. 

The court held that the delays occasioned by the applicants were unreasonable and the explanations in both applications were unsatisfactory for the court to apply its discretion. Accordingly, both applications were dismissed with costs.

Tumas Granite CC v Minister of Mines and Energy and Others ( (P) A 2328/2006) ((P) A 2328/2006) [2008] NAHC 141 (24 June 2008);

Headnote and Holding: 

The matter dealt with an application for review of a decision by the first respondent to grant a reconnaissance licence to the second respondent. The issue for the court’s consideration was whether it was permissible to grant an exclusive reconnaissance license to a non-holder of a reconnaissance license and whether a side note in a statute could be used in the interpretation of a statutory provision.

The applicant conceded that in terms of section 59(1)(a) of the Minerals Act, they were not a holder of a reconnaissance licence and therefore could not have applied for an exclusive reconnaissance as required by that section but contended that an exclusive reconnaissance licence was competent under  section 62(1) of the act.

The court in dismissing the application decided that ss 59 to 62 complemented each other. The court cited Chandler v DPP which held that side notes cannot be used as an aid to the construction of legislation as they are mere catchwords inserted by the draftsman and not the legislator. Therefore the notion that the marginal note to s 59 held that the section only deals with exclusive reconnaissance licences was immaterial.  The court held that the language of s 59(1)(a) instead demonstrated that an ordinary reconnaissance  license could not be issued under s 62(1), unless it was first granted under s 59(1)(a) and ruled that only the holder of a valid reconnaissance license may apply for an exclusive reconnaissance license under s59(1)(b).

Auas Diamond Co (Pty) Ltd v Minister of Mines and Energy (PA220/05) [2006] NAHC 57 (30 November 2006);

Headnote and Holding: 

The matter dealt with an application to review the minister’s refusal to renew an exclusive prospecting license (EPL) for the applicant. Such a license would ordinarily be granted for an initial period of three years and thereafter could be renewed for not more than two successive periods.The applicant held a license from 1997 to 2000 and thereafter sought a renewal which was granted in 2001. However, the second application to renew was denied prompting the applicant to question the validity of the first renewal, The applicant argued that the acceptance of the renewal was done by an unauthorised individual acting outside his mandate and it should therefore be set aside.

The court considered the validity of the first renewal and held that since the initial renewal was by an unauthorised individual, it was void. Consequently it was immaterial whether the minister granted or refused the second application. The court decided further that section 48 of the Act mandates an applicant to accept the terms and conditions of a renewal within one month, failing which the application would be deemed to have lapsed. Consequently, the initial acceptance was ruled to be void because the application for a first renewal had lapsed. 

Therefore, the court concluded that because the substance of the applicant's application for review rested on the respondent's refusal of the second renewal of the EPL, that second renewal could not have been granted or refused, because the EPL had already expired and was never legally renewed.