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The 'Green Scorpions': Who are they and what do they do?

14th May 2015

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We have all heard of the colloquial term for the law enforcement agents known as the ‘Green Scorpions’ but many of us are unsure of who these agents are and what functions they serve. More formally known as Environmental Management Inspectors (EMI’s) in terms of the National Environmental Management Act, Number 107 of 1998 (“NEMA”), EMI’s are mandated under Section 31D of NEMA. The Green Scorpions are a network of environmental compliance and enforcement officials from national, provincial and municipal government who all share the same legislative powers and duties in terms of NEMA. 

FUNCTIONS OF THE GREEN SCORPIONS

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The recent insurgence of prosecutions for environmental wrongs and the issuing of directives (compliance with a duty of care) has become a lot more prevalent. The Green Scorpions, within their mandate in terms of NEMA, must monitor and enforce compliance with our environmental laws for which they have been designated and may investigate an act or omission in which there is a reasonable suspicion that the act or omission might constitute an offence in terms of such law; a breach of such law; or a breach of a term or condition of a permit, authorisation or other instrument issued in terms of such law.  

The Green Scorpions must carry out their duties and exercise their powers in accordance with any instructions issued by the Minister or the MEC and subject to any limitations and in accordance with any procedures that may be prescribed.  Their ultimate function is to ensure environmental laws are being complied with and that there is no damage to, loss of, or deterioration of the environment.

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Written by Caitlin Askew
BOUWER KOBELI MORABE ATTORNEYS
“BKM Attorneys - Passionate about Law”

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