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.
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The matter dealt with an application by the state to recall witnesses in a trial in which the accused stood charged in the main count with theft of diamonds, or alternatively with possession of diamonds in contravention of Proclamation 17 of 1939. The court had dismissed the main charge on the basis that the link between the objects which were found in possession of the accused, and which were ultimately valued and identified as rough and uncut diamonds, did not exist. However, the state relied on the alternative and requested the court to recall witnesses to prove that these objects were in fact rough and uncut diamonds.
The main issue was whether it was necessary to recall witnesses for the fair adjudication of a case.
The court stated that where the evidence of a witness was necessary for the fair adjudication of the case, the court was obliged in terms of s 167 of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 to recall that witness or those witnesses.
The court established that the evidence was necessary for the fair adjudication of the case between the State and the accused, in the sense that a person who was guilty on that charge might be acquitted but that the giving of such evidence would not lead to an innocent person possibly being found guilty.
The court, therefore, held that the evidence was essential for the fair adjudication of the case and granted the application by the state.
The plaintiff in this case was permitted by the Chief of Matebeng to graze 187 goats and 84 sheep at Pekamollo near Mount Tsolo. The defendants took legal custody of about 700 of the plaintiff's animals and some of the plaintiff’s animals died in their custody.
The plaintiff instituted a claim for damages caused by the defendants’ trespass and negligence. He submitted that the death of his animals was caused by the defendants’ failure to exercise reasonable care to safe keep the animals.
The plaintiff proceeded with the case against the second, third, fourth and seventh defendants who did not file their notice to defend the claim. The court was satisfied that the plaintiff had made a conclusive case on the claim for negligence since the defendants decided not to give any defence.
The court held that the plaintiff was not entitled to damages for trespass since the first defendant was the Chief of Tsolo and had the power to decide which area under his jurisdiction was a reserved pasture. It was also held that the other damages were reasonable.
Accordingly, the second, third, fourth and seventh defendants were found to be severally and jointly liable. The court ordered the payment of M18,090.00 for the loss of the animals that died; M2,000.00 for the loss of wool and mohair; and an interest at the rate of 11% per annum from date of the judgment and costs of the suit.