Mabola update: Court refuses state’s postponement application, grants punitive costs order

17 October 2018 - The Pretoria High Court has refused the state’s application to postpone the hearing of the civil society coalition’s judicial review application in the Mabola case, and granted a punitive costs order against the state. The hearing of the review application is now underway.

On Friday, 12 October 2018, more than 4 years after the declaration of the Mabola Protected Environment, the MEC for Environment in Mpumalanga, Vusi Shongwe, published a notice of intention to exclude the properties that make up the proposed coal mining area from the Mabola Protected Environment, declared in 2014. The notice provides for a comment period of 60 days.

On Monday, 15 October 2018, the State Attorney filed an affidavit in the judicial review brought by the civil society coalition to set aside the joint permission given by former Mineral Resources Minister Zwane and the late Environment Minister Molewa in 2016, requesting the Pretoria High Court to postpone the coalition’s review application sine die, or without a new date. The coalition filed an answering affidavit, opposing this request, in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

On Tuesday, 16 October 2018, Judge Norman Davis instructed MEC Shongwe to file his own version of events on affidavit – to explain to the court the late publication of the gazetted notice, given its potential impact on the judicial review application to be heard one court day later. That affidavit by the MEC was filed in the afternoon (with annexure). The civil society coalition filed a further answering affidavit in the early hours of Wednesday, 17 October 2018.

After hearing argument, Judge Davis refused the postponement application, and ordered the state to pay the costs of the postponement application on an attorney and client scale.

All court papers are available here under the drop down headings “Legal Challenges” and “Judicial review of the decisions by the Minister of Mineral Resources and the Minister of Environmental Affairs to give Atha-Africa-Ventures (Pty) Ltd permission to mine in a protected environment in terms of the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act, 2003″, as well as the court papers relating to the postponement application, which we will update continuously.