Sinegugu Zukulu wins right to take SANRAL to court in fight against N2 Wild Coast Toll Road24 October 2017
"We are hopeful that the courts will continue to recognise the rights of the communities affected by the proposed toll road. "
As SANRAL seems determined to continue with construction of the controversial and potentially devastating N2 toll road on the Wild Coast, in spite of widespread community objection and protest from Lusikisiki to Port Edward, we were extremely satisfied by a judgment in favour of our client Mr Sinegugu Zukulu in the Gauteng High Court last week.
For almost 10 years we have been representing the Sigidi and Mdatya communities and their members as well as Mr Sinegugu Zukulu in a protracted battle to have the environmental authorisation for the N2 Wild Coast Toll Road set aside.
On Thursday 19th October, the Pretoria High Court found in favour of Sinegugu Zukulu, a community leader, member of Amadiba Crisis Committee and vice chair of the NGO Sustaining the Wild Coast (SWC) who has been the subject of two court hearings as SANRAL sought to prevent him taking them to court.
SANRAL had argued that Mr Zukulu had not exhausted internal remedies by appealing in his own name in the Environmental Impact Assessment administrative process. In fact, Sinegugu had been a driving force behind not only an appeal on behalf of the Baleni Community (of which he is a member) but in two other appeals submitted by SWC and the South African Faith Communities’ Environmental Institute (SAFCEI). SANRAL’s arguments essentially aimed at preventing him from launching a legal challenge to the authorisation for the Wild Coast highway.
The court admonished SANRAL, the Minister and Department of Environmental Affairs and the Minister of Transport for attempting to prevent our client from applying for judicial review of the N2 Wild Coast road holding that "The opposition of the respondent organs of state was designed to frustrate the efforts of an aggrieved person to be heard in court."
The judge declared that Mr Zukulu had exhausted his internal remedies as required by section 7(2) of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA) and that SANRAL and the Ministers and Department must pay the legal costs of two hearings and the costs involved in the year’s delay resulting from State organs filing affidavits almost a year late in this matter.
We believe that the judgment will set an important precedent by emphasising that the requirement in PAJA to exhaust internal remedies should not be used to deny members of traditional communities or other groups access to the courts or to shield administrative actions from judicial scrutiny.
For Cullinan & Associates and the communities we represent, this is a significant victory in the quest to hold SANRAL and the State Departments accountable for the decision to develop the Wild Coast N2 highway in spite of widespread community opposition. It also marks a second beginning – we are now able to proceed with the main review application.
We are hopeful that the courts will continue to recognise the rights of the communities affected by the proposed toll road. Cullinan & Associates is proud to represent the Wild Coast communities and to assist them in asserting their Constitutional rights thereby creating significant legal precedents in South Africa with regard to the rights of marginalised communities and the status of customary law.
To help support the fight against SANRAL and this destructive project, we urge you to donate to support the communities in holding government to account and ensuring that justice is served in the Wild Coast.
Cullinan & Associates is grateful for the funds received from Legal Aid South Africa and the Raith Foundation in this matter.
You can donate to the legal campaign here.