Court challenge: 'conservation board's decisions invalid'

2011-11-28 00:00

LEGAL challenges launched against Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) by the Animal Interest Alliance (AIA) and Shemungwe Game Capture have been set down for trial in the high court in Pietermaritzburg between March 28 and 30 next year.

The applications brought by the AIA and Shemungwe Game Capture seek to declare the appointment of the KZN Nature Conservation Board and all subsequent actions and decisions taken by it since 2006 to be invalid.

They also challenge new wildlife permit systems being implemented by EKZNW.

EKZNW is opposing the applications.

The challenge to the validity of the board is based on allegations that between June 2004 and December 2009 the KZN Nature Conservation Board operated with five members instead of a mandatory nine. Thus it is submitted all the decisions it took in that time are invalid.

The proprietor of Greytown-based Shemungwe Game Capture, Helmut Bruss, submitted in court papers that not only was the previous board incorrectly constituted, but the make-up of the present board also does not comply with relevant legislation on various grounds.

He said the new permit system proposed by Ezemvelo will be highly prejudicial to his business and includes requirements that can have no purpose other than to make it more difficult to apply for permits.

Bruss said that until 2008 the permit system was “simple and uncomplicated”, but more recently it has involved long delays and red tape, which prompted him to complain to the public protector last year.

He also complains that the body in charge of issuing permits, Ezemvelo, is in fact also a competitor in the game capture industry.

Bruss said he refuses to make his financial statements available to Ezemvelo as required in terms of the new procedures, as this is “without purpose” and cannot be required for any legitimate purpose, especially by a competitor.

Another “impractical” requirement stipulates that a full description of animals to be moved must accompany an application.

In the case of a herd of impala, for example, it is impossible to provide such a description before capture, while any delay in the issuing of the permit would result in the description changing due to births or deaths, said Bruss.

Bruss alleged last year there was an average 42-day delay to obtain permits and this year the delay would vary from “one day to 84 days”.

Ezemvelo CEO Bandile Mkhize denied in replying papers that the KZN Nature Conservation Board is illegally constituted.

Replying to Bruss’s allegation that Ezemvelo is a competitor, Mkhize said Ezemvelo does not solicit private business, but captures and sells its own animals.

The organisation will only capture and translocate animals privately (for a fee) if specifically requested to do so.

Mkhize said it is also not correct that there are long delays in processing permits and Bruss’s statement that he waits an average of 42 days is misleading.

Mkhize said 43% of permits applied for are issued within 15 days, and 70% within 30 days.

“The applicant [Bruss] further does not disclose that he often applies for permits for more species of animals than his bomas can hold,” he added.

Mkhize said Bruss’s “howl of protest” at having to provide financial statements is also uncalled for as there is provision for him to motivate to Ezemvelo why he does not wish to provide financial statements. This requirement is aimed at determining if applicants for permits can afford to care for the animals they want to keep in captivity.

It is “not designed to assess the profitability of competitors”.


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