Bring back the ‘green’ courts, ministry urges
The department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries is calling for the reopening of environmental courts, where cases of illegal fishing, including abalone poaching, would be prioritised. SA’s first green court dates back to 2003 in Hermanus, Western Cape, where it was established as a pilot project run by the then departments of environmental affairs & tourism and of justice. It functioned as a regional court, and had an 85% conviction rate in 2005, a year before the department of justice decided to close it. This was when the department halted all specialised courts, unless they were mandated by a specific law, such as the equality court. Since then, the reintroduction of environmental courts was first mooted by then environmental & water affairs minister Buyelwa Sonjica, especially to fight water crimes. The courts were meant to work through dedicated time slots in the regional or district courts, supported by trained prosecutors. Of particular concern now is the rise in abalon...
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