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Offences and penalties for water pollution in South Africa: a comparative analysis of South African, British, American and Australian legislation.

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The growth of industrialization has increased waste pollution, especially water pollution. Industries and individuals produce pollutants that are discharged into waters. Uncontrolled water pollution results in health hazards to human beings, animals and other living things. Thus there is a need to impose water pollution control measures which can reduce pollution to an extent where very little pollutants are discharged into waters. Many states have enacted statutes for controlling water pollution, as they believe this is the best way to impose measures to achieve the safety of waters. Legislations impose measures, such as a permit and its conditions, that must be respected to discharge pollutant or trade effluent into waters, otherwise the discharger becomes a polluter and liable to criminal sanctions. Statutes create offences and penalties for water polluters. They provide fines or imprisonment, or both, and severely punish a subsequent offender. 1n most countries, a continuing offence is criminalised. Corporations, as well as corporate officers, are punished for the offence of polluting waters or other environmental crimes. This is because environmental law does not allow corporate officers to hide behind the legal structure of the corporation. Some measures such as remediation or clean-up orders are implemented before a prosecution is engaged, in order to ensure the protection of the environment. Environmental audit or service orders emphasise the protection of the environment and may prevent future pollution of waters. Environmental service orders rectify one of the criticisms of fine or imprisonment, in that they fail to restore the environment to its previous condition. Most environmental crimes are caused not by a deliberate intention or negligence, but by poor or ineffective management systems. As a result, environmental audit orders may be used to detect and correct an inappropriate management system. Environmental law should be a user-friendly and prosecution must be used as a last resort. This dissertation examines offences and penalties for water pollution in South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Australia and offers a comparative analysis and recommendations for South Africa. These countries have been selected not only because they are developed and tend to have best la:ws, but they are also located in different continents. The examination and analysis of how they provide offences and penalties for water pollution gives a chance to South Africa to find ·recommendations on how it may improve its legislation and maintain its water quality.


Master of Laws in Environmental Law. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2008.


Theses--Law., Environmental law--South Africa., Water--Pollution--Law and legislation--South Africa., Environmental degradation--South Africa., Environmental policy--South Africa.