The sting of the “Green Scorpions” in tackling environmental crime

The National Environmental Management Act seeks to protect the Constitutional right to an environment that is not harmful to one’s health or wellbeing. The Act recognises that everyone has the right to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through 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.

One of the ways in which the Act seeks to achieve these goals is to provide for the appointment of Environmental Management Inspectors (EMIs). These inspectors have become known as the “Green Scorpions” as they investigate, inspect, enforce and administrate a range of environmental concerns.

The Green Scorpions receive instructions from the Minister responsible for environmental matters or the MEC and must always act within their prescribed mandate. Some of their power includes seizing items; questioning witnesses; searching vehicles, vessels and aircraft; conducting routine inspections; taking photographs and audiovisual recordings; issuing compliance notices and admission of guilt fines and making arrests. Their primary role is to ensure that environmental legislation is followed and enforced and that there is no damage to the environment.

The Green Scorpions often work in tandem with the South African Police Service in the investigation of environmental crimes before handing the cases over to the National Prosecuting Authority for prosecution.

Therefore, if you have seen someone committing an environmental crime like poaching, unlawfully disposing of waste, unlawfully polluting the environment, driving on a beach without a permit or illegally cutting and removing wood, contact the Green Scorpions on environment@tip-offs.com or phone the hotline on 0800 205 005.

To view their website with more information click here: https://www.environment.gov.za/projectsprogrammes/emi/about

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