South Africa
Wetlands, Standing, Property, Constitutional, Contract, Damages, Environmental Impact Assessments, Public Participation
In the present case an interdict was brought against a group of environmental activists who had campaigned against the development of a fuel service station on the basis that it was on an ecologically sensitive wetland. Like in the Wraypex case, the developer PetroProps claimed that the campaign amounted to harassment and interference with its use and enjoyment of its property and had caused severe financial loss The application did not succeed. Instead it was held that the activists conduct was one of “a standard that any vibrant democratic society would be glad to have raised in its midst. Their interest in motivation is selfless, being to contribute to environmental protection in the common good. None of them stands to gain material personal profit. Their modus operandi is entirely peaceful. It is mobilised within a self-funding voluntary association. It is geared towards public participation, information gathering and exchange, discussion and the production of community-based mandates. Its accompanying public discourse and media coverage have been fair, with participants and readers alike being presented in a balanced way with the viewpoints of all sides. In my view, conduct of that sort earns the support of our constitution in this context, it should be borne in mind that the Constitution does not only afford a shield, to be resorted to passively and defensibly. It also provides a sword, which groups like the Association can and should draw to empower their initiatives and interests".