Precautionary and preventive principles

Municipal Council of Windhoek v Claudia Properties CC and Another (A 117/2010) [2014] NAHCMD 332 (14 November 2014);

Headnote and Holding: 

The court considered an application for a mandamus by the applicant, as a result of the respondents having applied for the consolidation and rezoning of 2 plots of land. The respondents had their application conditionally approved upon submitting an engineer’s drawing for the erection of retaining walls as part of flood protection and to create 54 client accessible parking bays. 

The court considered if there was a contravention of s 44(5) of the applicant’s town planning scheme in accordance with the Town Planning Ordinance No 18 of 1954 as amended. Without drawing plans being submitted to the applicant for approval, the respondents admitted that a temporary corrugated iron wall was erected on the riverbank which was next to the two properties. On their own admission, the respondents did not create the 54 accessible parking bays. 

The court found that the respondents failed to adhere to the condition of their approved application, so they were ordered to remove the illegally constructed corrugated iron wall, to submit an engineer’s drawing for the erection of the retaining walls to be constructed on the properties, within three months of the order. They were also ordered to construct the retaining wall within six months from the date of the approval by the applicant of the engineering drawing, as well as to remove all building materials and rubble from one plot in order to create 54 accessible parking bays on one of the properties. Respondents were ordered to pay applicant’s costs.

Black Range Mining (Pty) Ltd v Minister of Mines And Energy N.O and Others (SA 09/2011) [2014] NASC 4 (26 March 2014);

Headnote and Holding: 

This was an appeal from the High Court to the Supreme Court. The case concerned a ministerial notice stating that nuclear energy prospecting licenses regarding certain areas will not be provided.  The appellant was allegedly an aspiring applicant. He thus felt aggrieved with the notice.

In the High Court, it was held that the appellant lacked legal capacity to challenge the notice as the notice did not create any triable issue. Aggrieved, the appellant appealed to the Supreme Court.

Thus, the main issue for determination was whether the respondent's notice exempting certain areas from being prospected for nuclear resources was unconstitutional. The appellant’s argument was that the denial of the prospecting license violated his constitutional right to work. 

In response, the Supreme Court upheld the High Court decision, but it disagreed with the High Court that the respondent lacked the legal capacity. According to the Supreme Court, the appellant would have been successful if the minister had no statutory powers to issue the notice or if the process was procedural. However, the minister had such powers under section 122(1) of the Mineral (Prospecting and Mining) Act of 1992. Consequently, the Court held that it cannot order the minister to issue the license if the notice is still in existence. Also, the Supreme Court held that the constitutional provision on the right to work does not mean that people can conduct mining activities without being regulated given the environmental challenges. 

Following this, the appellant's case was dismissed with costs.