A judge in the High Court in Pretoria has sided with a lone Pondoland villager who wants the environmental authorisation for the proposed N2 Wild Coast tollroad set aside.
The Baleni community, with Reinford Zukulu as the driving force, was among 49 applicants who lodged an internal appeal with the environmental affairs minister after the department granted environmental authorisation for the proposed tollroad in 2010.
The minister only considered 26 of the objections, which she dismissed in 2011, but did not consider appeals related to the tolling, which required a different adjudication.
Zukulu, the Baleni community and some of the other applicants then instituted proceedings for a review of the authorisation, arguing the tollroad between East London and Durban would have an irreversible impact on local communities, the biologically rich environment and the landscape.
When all the applicants except Zulu withdrew from the review application, Sanral lodged an objection to his continued legal battle, claiming he had not exhausted his internal remedies and was precluded from going ahead with the application.
Zukulu then approached the high court and on Thursday obtained a declaratory order that he had in fact exhausted the internal remedies, which enables him to go ahead with the review application.
Judge Neil Tuchten said Zukulu’s perception was that the appeal was brought on behalf of all members of the community, and he could not have foreseen they would decide not to proceed with it.
He said there was no dilatoriness, negligence or bad faith in Zukulu’s efforts to defend his own interests and those of the community and their withdrawal was of scant importance when weighed up against the interests of justice.
The judge added that it seemed the purpose of the resistance to Zukulu placing his arguments before a review court was to thwart his desire to have his day in court. – email@example.com