Home World South Africa: why justice has ruled in favor of the populations and...

South Africa: why justice has ruled in favor of the populations and environmentalists opposed to the Shell oil tanker

South Africa: why justice has ruled in favor of the populations and environmentalists opposed to the Shell oil tanker

A victory for indigenous populations and environmentalists. On December 28, 2021, the court in Grahamstown, South Africa, banned with immediate effect the oil giant Shell from carrying out a seismic exploration off the tourist Wild coast (wild coast), in the east of the country. The complainants were concerned about the repercussions of the exploration project on the marine fauna and the daily life of the inhabitants of the region.

Judge Gerald Bloem held that the Anglo-Dutch company had not fulfilled the obligation to consult the local population, which in particular holds fishing rights and maintains a “special spiritual and cultural link with the ocean”.

“We respect the court ruling and have suspended the study while we review the judgment”a Shell spokesperson told AFP, who did not say whether the company would appeal.

(Translation: “Today a court ordered Shell to STOP its seismic explosions along South Africa’s rugged coast, while ordering Shell and the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy to pay the costs of the request for provisional prohibition. “)

Recall of facts

On November 29, 2021, four environmental and human rights organizations – Border Deep Sea Angling Association, Kei Mouth Ski Boat Club, Natural Justice and Greenpeace Africa – file with Grahamstown court an urgent request for an interim ban against Shell in order to prevent it “to begin seismic testing in the sensitive and ecologically diverse marine environment of the rugged coast of South Africa “, explains a press release from Natural justice. The project to search for oil and gas deposits by seismic campaign, planned over five months in the region over an area of ​​more than 6,000 km², must then start on December 1, 2021. A shock wave was sent every ten seconds into the ocean by boats equipped with air guns.

The court rejects the request December 3. A new resource for communities living in the region, those ofAmadiba, Cwebe, Hobeni, Port Saint Johns and Kei Mouth, is introduced mid-december and, a few days later, NGOs are appealing the December 3 decision. The combined remedies of indigenous people and environmental activists will finally get the better of Shell on December 28.

“South Africa is heavily dependent on imports for a large part of its energy needs. If viable resources were discovered at sea, it could contribute significantly to the country’s energy security.”, argued a Shell spokesperson interviewed by AFP. The South African Minister of Energy had defended the Shell project, accusing his detractors of blocking the economic investments the country needs, after numerous demonstrations of environmentalists and opponents in the country in the first half of the month of December.

The victory of the right to be consulted

However, it was the pressure directly exerted by the communities who would have suffered the negative impacts of the project that convinced the courts and changed the situation. “The voices of those directly concerned have finally been heard, and the constitutional rights of indigenous peoples have been upheld.”, Sinegugu Zukulu of the Sustaining the Wild Coast resident collective said in a Greenpeace Africa. “This case reminds us that constitutional rights belong to the people, not the government, and that the only way to ensure that the rights of indigenous peoples are alive – and not just written on paper – is to challenge government decisions that do not hold true. These rights are ignored, and this victory is extremely important because we have ensured that the rights of indigenous communities remain alive.

Same story on the advice side. “The case is of considerable importance as it shows that, regardless of the size of a company, it ignores local communities at its own risk”, lawyer Wilmien Wicomb notes.

“Wild Coast”, vital resource and tourist gem

Open to the Indian Ocean, the Wild coast, with spectacular wild landscapes, stretches over some 300 kilometers and has several nature reserves and marine protected areas. According to Natural Justice, one of the NGOs which brought civil action in the case, it is the “South Africa’s most diverse coastline”. Many threatened and protected species were found in the Shell study area. “Own documents” of the multinational, said a press release from the NGO, indicated that “surveys should not take place in December due to migrating whales (…) passing through the area“.

In addition, the Shell projects would also have had “direct and serious repercussions on social, economic and cultural rights” and “on the right to self-determination of the communities of eXolobeni, Nqamakwe and Port Saint Johns, who depend heavily on ecotourism and fishing for their livelihoods and who regard this land as sacred and deeply linked to their identity and to their heritage “.

No Comments

Leave A Reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Exit mobile version