An environmental watchdog has challenged a legal decision by a Pietermaritzburg high court judge, fearing that his ruling will encourage mining companies to disregard the country’s environmental protection laws. The challenge has been mounted by the Cape Town-based Centre for Environmental Rights, after judge Rishi Seegobin dismissed an application in October to shut down the Somkhele coal mine — owned by Johannesburg-based Tendele Mining — on the periphery of the flagship Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal. The centre has lodged an application to intervene as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) in an application for leave to appeal against Seegobin’s ruling. The centre, represented by attorney Catherine Horsfield, said it was concerned that the ruling “may open the door” to companies disregarding environmental safeguards in the constitution. The centre believes the Tendele verdict has broad national implications and could have a “profound influence” on the ability o...

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