The Environmental Case Law Index is a collection of judgments from 10 African countries on topics relating to environmental law, both substantive and procedural. The collection focuses on cases where an environmental interest interacts with governmental or private interests.
Get started on finding judgments that are relevant to you by browsing the topic list on the left of the screen. Click the arrows next to the topic names to reveal a detailed list of sub-topics. Most judgments are accompanied by a short summary written by subject-area expert postgraduate students from the University of Cape Town.
Read also JIFA's Environmental Country Reports for SADC
The court considered an application for the applicants to be compensated before removing them from their land for improvements to those sites, as well as an interdict restraining the respondents from removing or demolishing the houses of the applicants without compensating them. The facts surrounded the applicant’s right to occupy the land based on allocation of land letters. The respondents argued that the applicants were in unlawful occupation as only the Urban Land Committee could allocate land. Further, that the Minister had published a legal notice advising the applicants that the land would be taken.
The court considered whether the right to land under s 44 of the Land Act 1979, which governs that the seizure of land for public purposes, was correctly administered. Further, the court stated that in Lesotho, land is not subject to individual ownership, and a person only has a right to occupy and use the land and when land has been taken away by custom, it has to be replaced.
The court found that the applicants, who had collectively spent millions on improvements to their houses, could not have their land taken away and their rights ignored. Further, the court held that peoples land could not be seized without them being consulted and being heard.
The court found that the legal notice issued by the minister was contrary to law as there was no prior consultation and it did not specify the purpose for seizure or the properties to be seized. Accordingly, the application succeeded.
The court considered an application for review to set aside the decision of the respondent regarding authorisation to develop a filling station on property situated within a commercial area.
The court considered whether the department had acted unfairly by failing to call for further information from the applicant, and subsequently denying the applicant authorisation to develop the filling station. Found, the department was not obliged to request the applicant to amend their report, and as such the applicant was entitled to renew their report at any stage, and thus did not act unfairly.
In order to determine whether the respondent had acted unlawfully and irregularly, environmental legislation and the Constitution, which contain socio-economic considerations, had to be considered.
The court considered whether the department’s policy of protecting the environment met with the guidelines applicable to developing filling stations was reasonable, and reasonably applied. Policy is applicable where (i) it will not preclude the exercise of discretion; (ii) it is compatible with the enabling legislation; and (iii) it is disclosed to the affected person before a decision is reached. The court found that the department met all of the requirements and was lawfully entitled, and duty bound to consider the guidelines.
The court considered whether the respondent’s argument regarding the distance was reasonable. The court found that the department had consulted with stakeholders who agreed with the distance and reduced the distance in the industry’s favour. Accordingly, the court held that the department acted bona fide and reasonably.