ATC141110: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs on Public Hearings on Sustainable Development Goals, Climate Change and Rhino Killing in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and North West Provinces, dated 21 October 2014


Report of the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs on Public Hearings on Sustainable Development Goals, Climate Change and Rhino Killing in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and North West Provinces, dated 21 October 2014.

The Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs having conducted the public hearings on Sustainable Development Goals, Climate Change and Rhino Poaching in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and North West Provinces, reports as follows;

  1. Introduction

The Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs (hereinafter the Committee) in the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa held public hearings on the newly released Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Climate Change and the killing of South African Rhino populations in the three provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, from 29 th to 30 th August 2014; Mpumalanga, from 5 th to 6 th September 2014; and the NorthWest, from 12 th to 13 th September 2014 .These issues are wide-ranging and complex, and have important implications for the economy, more so, for the livelihoods of the poor in rural and urban areas throughout the country. As public representatives in the premier institution of Parliament, charged with law-making and oversight of the implementation of national policy and legal frameworks, the Committee saw it fit to solicit the perspectives, knowledge and wisdom of the grassroots communities in debating and finding optimal solutions to these complex and challenging developmental realties. After all, section 195(1)(e) of the Constitution demands that our “ People’s needs must be responded to, and the public must be encouraged to participate in policymaking ”, particularly as t he SDGs that seek to end poverty in all its forms; ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all; build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation; take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts; conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development; protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss, among others, are fundamental to our quest for sustainable development.

The constitutional directive to involve people in decisions that affect their wellbeing is further enhanced in the National Environmental Management Act (Act No 107 of 1998). Section 2(4)(f) of NEMA requires that “ The participation of all interested and affected parties in environmentalgovernance must be promoted, and all people must have the opportunityto develop the understanding, skills and capacity necessary forachieving equitable and effective participation, and participation byvulnerable and disadvantaged persons must be ensured .” It was in this context, specifically the need to ensure participation by vulnerable and disadvantaged persons that the Committee went to Hluhluwe Local Municipality and eThekwini Metropolitan in KwaZulu-Natal; Engwenyama Lodge and Conference Centre in the Mbombela Municipality and Bushbuckridge Local Municipality in Mpumalanga; and in the Moses Kotane Local Municipality and Tlokwe Local Municipality in the North West, respectively. People turned out in great numbers in all the six places where the public hearings were held in the three provinces, with the public hearings realising an overall turn–up of about 4 200people.


Members of Parliament:

  1. Hon JM Mthembu, ANC (Leader of the delegation)
  2. Hon SP Mabilo (African National Congress)
  3. Hon HB Kekane (African National Conference)
  4. Hon RT Maluleke (African National Congress)
  5. Hon T Hadebe (Democratic Alliance)
  6. Hon T Stander (Democratic Alliance)
  7. Hon J Steenkemp (Democratic Alliance)
  8. Hon M Shelembe (National Freedom Party)

Support Staff:

1. Ms T Madubela, Committee Secretary

2. Mr K Kunene, Committee Secretary

3. Mr D Arendse , Committee Assistant

4. Ms V Makubalo , Committee Assistant

5. Ms Z Kula, Committee Assistant

6. Ms Z France, Committee Assistant

7. Dr S Watts, Committee Researcher

8. Ms C Maledu , Administrative Assistant

9. Ms L Dyasi , Project Coordinator

10. Mrs N Giba Unit Manager, Land and Environmental Cluster

11. Mr S Tshabalala, Section Manager: Committees

Inter-Sectional Support

1. Sound and Vision

2. Language Services

3. Parliamentary Communications Services

4. Protection Services

5. Parliamentary Democratic Office (North West)


There were many categories of people who attended the public hearings in the three provinces, including:

i) Minister of Environmental Affairs, HonEdnahMolewa and Ministry staff;

ii) Department of Environmental Affairs (members of the Executive Management & staff);

iii) Members of the Executive Committee (MECs);

iv) Members of Provincial Legislature

v) Staff of provincial Government departments responsible for the environmental portfolio;

vi) Staff from the local municipalities in the six municipalities visited;

vii) Executive Mayors and Deputy Mayors of Local Municipalities;

viii) Councillors;

ix) Members of Ward Committees;

x) Tribal Authorities/Traditional Leaders;

xi) South African National Parks Management;

xii) South African Weather Service

xiii) Game Reserve Owners;

xiv) Farmers and Businesspeople;

xv) Advocacy and Community-based Organisations;

xvi) Non-governmental organisations ( e.g.,Biowatch );

xvii) Environmental Activists;

xviii) Members of surrounding Local Communities; and

xix) South African Police Service (SAPS/HAWKS).

Overall, about 4 200 people attended the public hearings held in six localities in the three provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the North West.

  1. Cooperation with Provincial Legislatures and Local Councils

To ensure success of the public hearings, the Committee considered it imperative to invite the Chairpersons of the provincial parliamentary Portfolio Committees that deal with environmental functions, among other things, to participate in the public hearings in their respective provinces. Similarly, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, HonEdnahMolewa , MECs for environmental functions, executive mayors and local councillors were invited to participate in the hearings, they being in the sphere of government closest to the communities where the public hearings would be conducted. The purpose of these joint public hearings is to establish critical relations of trust with the relevant local and provincial authorities to ensure strengthening of future collaboration on oversight work in areas of common interest in order to attend holistically to the developmental challenges that face our people at various levels.Indeed , there were instances when parliamentary committees from the National Legislature had gone on oversight in the previous Parliaments and were confronted with community concerns, which were related to the work of provincial government departments or local councils. Therefore, the purpose of the joint public hearings with provincial legislatures and local councils was to prepare ground for future collaborative initiatives. The Committee is acutely aware that unless Parliament’s committees join hands with their counterparts in provincial legislatures and local councils, service delivery to poor rural communities would remain elusive, or a moving target for which the identification of responsibilities would prove difficult.

It was on the foregoing premise that Hon Z Ludidi , the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs and Conservation in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature chaired the public hearings sessions conducted over a two-day period, beginning with the briefing in the boardroom of the Big 5 False Bay Municipality.Conversely , the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land and Environmental Affairs in the Mpumalanga Legislature, Hon VV Windvoel chaired the public hearings held in the Mbombela and Bushbuckridge local municipalities, whereasthe Chair of Chairs, Hon Gordon Kegakilwe and the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment in the North West Legislature, Hon D Ndlelenico -chaired the public hearings in the Moses Kotane and Tlokwe local municipalities, respectively. It is worth noting that all the public hearings were preceded by briefings conducted by the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs in the National Legislature.

It is in these briefings that the Chairperson of the Committee, Hon Jackson Mthembu, briefed the key stakeholders (Minister, MECs, members of provincial legislatures (MPLs), mayors, councillors and traditional leaders on the purpose of the public hearings, covering the SDGs and outlining their genesis, scope and hence the 17 Goals and the 169 Targets. He indicated that the SDGs derived from a United Nations processthat sought to develop a post-2015 development strategythat would build on the work done by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as the term of the MDGs expires at the end of 2015. HonMthembu underscored the fact that the SDGs are to maintain poverty eradication as the central objective, with a more balanced and holistic equity and rights-based approach to the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. He indicated that the zero draft of the proposed SDGs had been released to the UN member States, including South Africa, to comment on them, and affirmed that it was precisely for this reason that the Committee decided to call for public hearings in both rural and urban areas to hear the views of South Africans on the proposed SDGs in order to empower the Government in representing the views and aspirations of our people well at all relevant UN forums, where the SDGs would be discussed and processed further for adoption towards the end of 2015.

Climate change poses one of the greatest challenges to South Africadue to its extreme vulnerability and hence increased exposure to the harmful effects of climate change. South Africa’s vulnerability is worsened by its already water-stressed nature, meaning that future drying trends and weather variability with cycles of increased droughts and sudden excessive rains, will increasingly negatively affect certain critical aspects of our growth and development path. The plight of the poor people whose homes are flooded and properties destroyed during rainy season or whose livelihoods are threatened by droughts, show the magnitude of the challenge. It is in this context that HonMthembustated that South Africa urgently calls for “strengthening the multilateral, rules-based regime under the Convention”, consistent with the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action. He emphasised the need for South Africans to interrogate this Government’s position on Climate Change, as we approach COP20 in Lima, Peru, later this yearthat seeks to build momentum and a critical level of ambition necessary for a successful Climate Change Agreement at the 21 st Conference of the Parties (COP21) meeting in Paris (France), in 2015. HonMthembu stressed the need for South Africans to give a clear mandate to the Government, in this respect.

On the rampant killing of South Africa’s Rhinos in the nation’s protected areas, particularly the iconic flagship, Kruger National Park. HonMthembu lamented the fact that the ongoing relentless killing of Rhinos threatens to destroy South Africa’s proud track record of successful Rhino conservation. Of the approximately 25 000 animals distributed worldwide, about 21 000 are found in South Africa, demonstrating the country’s conservation ingenuity. He indicated that the killing of Rhinos is a crime that is undoubtedly fuelled by a thriving black market trade in Rhino horn. Since January this year, more than 750 [1] Rhinos have been killed, mainly in the Kruger National Park, with 523 Rhinos killed in it alone as of September 2014, although we are not even at the end of the year yet. He emphasised the need to stem the growing relentless killing of Rhinos by poachers and called on the local communities, particularly those at the margins of national parks to contribute innovative ideas to bolster Government efforts to protect this critical natural heritage whose continued survival has significant implications for job creation in the eco-tourism industry for these communities. He asked for ideas to effectively win the war on the brutal killing of Rhinos.

  1. Inputs and discussions

Rural and urban poverty, which is characterised by a lack of basic needs such as water, health care, food, sufficient access to social and economic services, and few opportunities for formal income generation, appears to be the main constraint on growth and development in all the rural and urban areas where public hearings were held. The negative impacts of poverty are more severely felt by poor people. Incidents of f looded homes and associated destruction to property in rainy seasons or severe droughts that threaten people’s livelihoods fundamentally underline people’s vulnerability to climate change due to limited nature of choices that poor have in contending with the impacts of climate change. They are more vulnerable because of their high dependence on natural resources, and their limited capacity to cope with climate variability and extremes. This, compounded with lack of provision of adequate housing, water and sanitation in rural areas and poor urban areas, escalates the vulnerability of poor people to the threats of climate change. Climate change is a serious risk to poverty reduction and threatens to undo the past two decades of development efforts that the Government had made.

It has long been stated that poverty is bad for the environment because poor people tend to overuse natural resources faster, as they do not have anything to eat or any means of getting money except through the use of natural resources. Poor people harvest natural resources for their survival or in order to meet their basic needs. Due to the lack of sufficient income, people start to use and overuse every resource available to them when their survival is at stake. [2] Thelack of sufficient income and hunger lead to desperate strategies for survival, people become tempted to engage in illicit practices both for direct consumption and income generation. This best explains the killing ofour natural heritage —the Rhinos — in our national parks and other forms of protected areas. It was evident in the public hearings that certain individuals from the poor communities that surround our protected areas are drawn into the illicit trade in Rhino horn and become foot soldiers for highly organised crime syndicates that operate beyond our borders. These Level I poachers are the men who risk their lives by entering national parks with the sole purpose of killing Rhinos for their horns, and in many instances lose their lives in battles with law enforcement agents, notably in the Kruger National Park. In fact, certain community members reported having lost relatives who took to killing Rhinos for income on the first day of the public hearings in Mpumalanga.The high demand for Rhino horns and the associated lucrative price for the horns, entices these Level I poachers to gamble with their lives, often with disastrous consequences. Even certain ParkRangers became complicit in the crime. The ‘street value’ of Rhino horn is estimated at US$65,000 per kg in April 2012, which is more than the spot price of gold at the time that stood at US$52,500 per kg. [3] Rhino horn is now an incredibly rare commodity worth more than cocaine, gold or platinum, as a single horn can sell for half a million dollars or even more. [4]

4.1 Inputs and discussions from KwaZulu-Natal

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Endorsing the proposed SDGs : The Deputy Mayor of the eThekwiniMunicipality , Cllr N Shabalala rose on behalf of the people of eThekwini to endorse the proposed SDGs that was outlined by Hon Jackson Mthembu and presented by the Department of Environmental Affairs.

Impacts of mining : Mining has serious environmental impacts in the surrounding areas in Hluhluwe. Mining also causes social disruption and ailments due to the encroachment of socially unacceptable practices in the area, such as drug use and prostitution which were until recently unheard of in the area prior to the influx of ‘strangers’ into the area for mining.

Waste management : Community members lamented the inadequacy of waste management practices in their areas that serve as health hazards, especially when waste containers located in residential areas are full. There were also concerns about disposable nappies that are widely scattered in residential areas due to poor disposal techniques and non-biodegradable nature of the materials from which disposable nappies are made.

Alien vegetation : The impact of exotic trees on freshwater is of a major concern in the eThekwini.

Climate Change

Endorsing the Government’s climate change negotiating position : The Deputy Mayor of the eThekwini Municipality, Cllr N Shabalala, rose on behalf of the people of eThekwini to endorse the South African Government’s climate change negotiating position that was outlined by Hon Jackson Mthembu and presented by the Department of Environmental Affairs.

Climate change mitigation : There is a need to adopt ecologically friendlier agricultural techniques and to produce food closer to consumption sites to mitigate climate change. The decision to dig another port in Durban should be abandoned, as this would encourage trucking and hence lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions and congestion, leading to more accidents. Similarly, oil and gas exploration in the sea should be avoided.

Rhino Killings

Killing of Rhinos : It was reported in the briefing at the offices of the Big 5 False Bay Municipality in Hluhluwe that the killing of Rhinos was impacting on the tourism industry in the area. The tourism industry had already expressed concern that the area was no longer popularwith tourists, leading to dwindling numbers in recent times.This was attributed partly to the mining activities in the surrounding areas that brought ‘strangers’ into Hluhluwe, thereby furthering Rhino killing.

Trade in Rhino horn : Support was expressed for a limited regulated trade in Rhino horns, mainly from the existing stockpiles and also from future cases of natural mortality. Money deriving from this process could be used for incentivising Rhino conservation on public, community and private lands. The same revenue could be used for establishing co-management initiatives in the buffer zones of protected areas, thereby serving effectively as firewalls against poaching.

Rhino ambassadors : It was indicated that certain community members should be appointed as Rhino ambassadors to help mobilise and garner support for Rhino conservation in areas where killing of Rhinos occurs. It was also suggested that Rhinos could be protected better in the face of ongoing onslaught by having one person recruited to protect only one Rhino at a time. It was further stated that the State should bear the cost of such one Rhino/one man conservation initiative.

Prosecution of poachers : There were concerns that those high up in the chain of poaching syndicates are not arrested and prosecuted as they ought to be. Even when they are arrested in the country, the case appears to be moving slowly, for example, the case of two Vietnamese who were released in 2010, but were rearrested due to increased publicity of their involvement in this illegal trade.There is a need to find better ways of arresting and prosecuting Rhino killing syndicates who reside in south-east Asian countries and even in the neighbouring countries.



Sustainable development goals (SDGS)

The Executive Mayor of the Mbombela Municipality, Cllr SP Mathonsi, rose to endorse the proposed SDGs on behalf of the Mbombela Municipality and the surrounding areas. They mandated the Government to represent them on the relevant forums where the SDGs would be discussed and processed further. Prior to this, many participants supported the SDGs in its current state, and one participant suggested that ‘sustainable development’ should be taught in schools to influence the attitude of future generations to treat the environment better. Similarly, many participants from the surrounding communities in the Bushbuckridge Local Municipality supported the SDGs prior to the rise of the Executive Mayor, Cllr R Khumalo , to support the prosed SDGs in its current form.


The same Executive Mayor of the Mbombela Municipality, Cllr SP Mathonsi, rose to endorse the Government’s negotiating position on behalf of the Mbombela Municipality and the surrounding areas. In the same vein, the Mayor of the Bushbuckridge Municipality, Cllr R Khumalo , endorsed the South African Government’s negotiating position on climate change in the lead to COP20 in Lima (Peru) and eventually COP21 in Paris (France), where there is an expectation for the conclusion of ongoing negotiations with a legally-binding, rules-based, multilateral climate agreement.

One participant stated that overdependence on fossil fuels for energy is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and recommended a vigorous search for an alternative source of energy despite the efforts of pro-fossil fuels companies to frustrate investment in alternative renewable energy techniques. He raised the concern that pro-oil companies buy off any company venturing into alternative energy sources.

Concerns were expressed about open air burning of waste heaps for 3 or more days per week, as this practice increases carbon emissions into the atmosphere and pollution with the associated health risks for the affected communities. There is also a need to emphasise recycling in order to mitigate climate change, although this could become an energy-intensive activity.

Rhino Killings

The majority of inputs and discussions in the Mpumalanga Province dwelt extensively on the killing of Rhinos, seemingly due to the fact that the Kruger National Park where most of the killings occur is located in this Province.

Limited regulated trade : one stakeholder suggested that there is a need to think carefully about the proposal to introduce a limited regulated trade in Rhino horns, and suggested the need for the nation to learn from the diamond and drug trade. A conservation-related businessman stated that releasing South Africa’s Rhino stockpiles onto the market to meet current demands and hence lessen demand for horns obtained illegally is meaningless, considering the massive ever-increasing demand for Rhino horns from China, let alone other consumer States. A further key stakeholder (Alison Thompson) was against the idea of opening up trade in Rhino horns, citing the Government’s inability to stem out illicit trade in abalone as the main reason. She disagreed with the assertion that the Government is at war with poaching syndicates, as no one goes to war with only 100 soldiers, referring to the number of SANDF soldiers stationed inside the Kruger National Park. Thompson pointed out that working against the killing of Rhinos in our national parks and at the same time proposing trade in Rhino horns are contradictory in our anti-poaching messaging. Consequently, the following have been suggested:

· Consider putting up the fences again.

· Seriously consider scaling up the involvement of the SANDF in securing the border with Mozambique. It is better to involve people who can respond competently to the threats of Rhino killing.

· Do not consider de-horning of Rhinos, as the horns play a critical role in the life of a Rhino.

· Met long sentences to convicted poachers and attach their assets to deter potential poachers.

· Consider exchanging staff, for example, transfer park staff and law enforcement agents regularly from Rhino killing hotspots to avoid corruption and/or prevent collusionwith potential poachers in the area. This is significant in the light of assertions by some community members that the killing of Rhinos is an inside job, and that the staff in the Kruger National Park know what is happening in that Park.

· Search every vehicle that enters and leaves the Kruger National Park, irrespective of whether it is a police vehicle or not.

· Work with communities to raise awareness and also to seek their support in protecting Rhinos, as this is already bearing fruit in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve where the killing of Rhinos is well controlled.

· Involve communities to strengthen beneficiation of Rhino conservation, and also prioritise recruitment of community members into game ranger positions from the immediate surrounding areas to enhance the sense of ownership of national parks and Rhinos in these communities.

· Tenders for service delivery or development in the surrounding area should be awarded to members of local communities, rather than distant people or those who come from cities.

· Engage game reserve owners in finding solutions to problems that confront them, rather than imposing tailored solutions on them.

· Develop the full eco-tourism potential of protected areas to reduce the impact of poverty on Rhinos, considering that many wealthy international tourists are willing to pay for photographic Safari, with the Big 5 serving as a draw card.

· Strengthen community strongholds for Rhino protection by mobilising local communities to see value in life Rhinos, rather than in horns by divesting the ownership of Rhinos on communal lands to respective communities.

· Initiate a reward system that pays individuals whose information led to successful conviction of members of criminal syndicates.

· Use electrical fences in the border with Mozambique to deter breaching of our borders with the aim of entering the Kruger National Park and also have cameras located at strategic points to monitor the movement of potential poachers.

· Create a ‘Rhino Stronghold’ within the Kruger National Park and step up security.

· Involve private investigators to track the illegal trade and those involved to ensure successful conviction of those responsible for illegal killing of South African Rhinos.

There were concerns that police tend to discourage people with certain critical information on the killing of Rhinos from coming forward, as instead of conducting proper investigations into allegations, they reveal the names of voluntary ‘informants’ to the potential suspects, putting the lives of those with information at risk. There were also allegations that traditional leaders are involved in Rhino killing, as those intending to enter parks to kill Rhinos for their horns, consult Inyangas for protection from law enforcement agents.Finally , a lady who was considering participating in illegal killing of Rhinos, confessed that she was impressed upon by the deliberations on Rhino killing and indicated that she would not participate in killing Rhinos for income.


Recruitment of rangers: Preferential considerations are given only to certain communities in the recruitment of rangers in the Kruger National Park, although they are not in the immediate vicinity of the Park, to the detriment of immediate surrounding communities. Ironically, there were individuals from those immediate communities who had undergone training as park rangers, but remained unemployed at the time of the public hearings.

Establish cooperatives : There is a need to establish cooperatives in the area to equip the youth with critical skills for productive living.

Lack of market for local produce : Certain community members, for example, the beneficiaries of the land reform programme are involved in agricultural production, but there are no markets for their produce.

Empowerment of women : The greatest challenge in rural development comes from the lack of empowerment of women . Conversely, the empowerment of women presents a unique opportunity for rural development and growth.


Sustainable development goals (SDGS)

The proposed SDGs were well received by the leadership of the Moses Kotane Local Municipality as well as by the leadership of the TlokweLocal Municipality as a suitable post-2015 development strategy. The Deputy Speaker of the North West Legislature and the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment, and the MEC for the Environment in the Province, Ms M Tlhape also echoed their support for the proposed SDGs, and so were many stakeholders in the public hearings in the two local municipalities in the Province. The biggest problem in the North West Province isthe lack of water even for a councillor in the Moses KotaneLocal Municipality who the local communities taunt for using a wheelbarrow to fetch water. Lack of access to water is equally the biggest threat to livelihoods in African communities in the Province. Competition over limited water in certain places within the Moses KotaneLocal Municipality is already causing problems between community members. Exploitation of groundwater was generally suggested as a solution to this challenge, as trucking of water into densely populated areas where people lackwater is not a sustainable solution. It was further stated that mining posed a huge environmental risk in the area, challenging the fundamental concept of sustainability that underpins the SDGs, as there could be no sustainable development on degraded lands. There were concerns that mining rights were being granted without recourse to the fact that the nation’s water resources are fully committed.

Commenting on section 6.3 of the Sustainable Development Goal 6 that seeks to “ improve water quality by reducing pollution…”, among other things, a female participant stated that improving the quality of water is meaningless for them, as they do not have water in their area. She stated that it be appropriate for them to have water connectivity before talking about improving the quality of that water.

A tourism industry stakeholder indicated that platinum mining is good for the economy of the country, but there needs to be a balanced approach, otherwise committing a significant part of the Province’s water resources to mining activities deprives other industriesfrom playing their critical role in the development of the Province, particularly the ever-growing tourism industry. Another stakeholder stressed the adverse impact of mining on the environment, stating that mine waste is the second serious environmental risk facing the country after climate change, and reminded the delegates about the ongoing challenge of acid mine drainage and the associated costs imposed on society. The stakeholder underscored the fact that mining is not a sustainable activity in the long run and hence suggested the need to diverse the economy of the region to cater holistically for the socio-economic needs of the local communities. Another stakeholder appealed to the Committee to place a moratorium on mining in biodiverse areas.

There were concerns about the improper disposal of disposable nappiesthat litter residential areas. These disposable nappies, which are blown and scattered by wind are unhygienic and hence community members would like to see an end to this environmental nuisance and hazard in residential areas. There were also suggestions for creating safety nets to support community members in dire need and for education to be free up to the first degree to boost enrolment of students from impoverished backgrounds at tertiary institutions. Commenting on the lack of water in the Tlokwe Local Municipality, one community member suggested going back to pray to God for rain, as they had always done in the past.


The South African Government’s negotiating position on climate change was equally supported by the leadership of the Moses Kotane Local Municipality as well as by the leadership of the Tlokwe Local Municipality on behalf of their respective communities. The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment, and the MEC for the Environment in the Province, Ms M Tlhape also offered their support for the Government’s climate change negotiating position in the lead to COP20 and COP21. Individual community members further endorsed the same position. In the meeting at the Tlokwe Local Municipality, the MEC for the Environment, Ms M Tlhape rose to state that her department is grappling with the issue of food security in the North West Province in the face of climate change. An additional suggestionmade byat least two participants was to include climate change awareness at schools to develop energy conservation attitudes in future generations (of South Africans).


The MEC, Ms M Tlhape indicated in the public hearings at the Tlokwe Local Municipality that her Department is dealing with conservation challenges in the Province, including Rhino protection. She further stated that they were looking at the concept of co-management as an avenue to beneficiation of conservation to broaden the constituency base for Rhino protection. Other participants in the public hearings provided the following suggestions to stem out Rhino killing:

· Develop a good network of informants at the grassroots to identify poachers.

· Involve the Department of Home Affairs in dealing effectively with undocumented foreigners, as their involvement in criminal activities, including Rhino killing is currently difficult to determine.

· South Africa should seek strategic partnerships for Rhino protection with like-minded nations and should consider severing diplomatic relations with those countries found to be complicit in the killing of Rhinos.

· The police should lay roadblocks at strategic positions in the vicinity of protected areas.

· Recruit honest immigration and police officials to manage South Africa’s borders to avoid bribery and hence prevent illegal entry of foreigners into the country.

· Consider dehorning of Rhinos.

· Install cameras at strategic points at the perimeter of parks to monitor illegal entry.

· Private game reserve owners did not know who to report incidents of Rhino killing on their properties: nature conservation authorities, police or the Hawks. Police at local police stations often directed them to the Hawks and vice versa .


· Unemployment is a huge challenge in the area, heightening the incidents of poverty in the two local municipalities. This has brought about social ailments such as theft of property exacerbated by poor street lighting.

· Needs were expressed for land to be given to communities for productive use in the fight against poverty.

· There is a need for proper housing for people living in informal structures. This could also serve as an infrastructural adaptation strategy to climate change.


The Minister of Environmental Affairs, HonEdnahMolewa welcomed the public hearings and thanked the Committee for creating the appropriate environment to hear ordinary South Africans on significant developmental issues such as the proposed SDGs that would take over the development agenda when the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) term expires at the end of 2015, climate change and the deep emotional issue of Rhino killing in our national parks, including the iconic Kruger National Park. Minister Molewa stated at the first public hearing in Hluhluwe that the three thematic areas in which the public hearings were being held were issues of great importance to South Africans and hence the work of the Department of Environmental Affairs. To show her unwavering support, the Minister sat through the public hearings in KwaZulu-Natal and also in Mpumalanga, and responded to certain community responses and indicated her willingness to follow up on certain concerns raised by participants to get a proper understanding of what her Department was doing on those matters raised. She appreciated the inputs from the relevant stakeholders and further stated that the Department would place them at relevant forums.

In Mpumalanga, the Minister specifically responded to the need for public awareness, particularly at schools. She highlighted what the Department was already doing with respect to public awareness, for example, through the Rhino ambassadors’ initiative. Minister Molewa emphasised the need to continue securing the Rhinos, while also emphasising softer interventions. She further stated the need to strengthen relevant law enforcement institutions crucial for Rhino protection, as shown by the long sentences (40 to 77 years) meted out to those who illegally killed Rhinos in our protected areas

On the involvement of private investigators in Rhino-related crimes, the Minister stated that South Africans should allow the State Security to work on this issue, considering the nationally strategic nature of this issue. She appealed to community members who have certain information on Rhino killing and/or the illegal trade to come forward. The Minister indicated that dehorning of Rhinos is possible only with small populations, but not with the approximately 21 000 Rhinos that South Africa has. She intended to follow up with the relevant officials why people who had undergone training as rangers were not employed, although she was aware that not all individuals who went to teacher training colleges were all employed as teachers at the end of their training.The same logic could have prevailed in this case.

  1. portfolio committee’s responses

Hon J Mthembu, acting on behalf of the Committee, heartily thanked the Minister of Environmental Affairs for having set aside time despite her busy schedule to attend the public hearings and also for her responses to the issues and questions raised by community members in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga provinces, respectively. He also noted the commitment and role of the departmental staff throughout the public hearings, especially the thematic presentations that prepared the ground for further inputs and discussions by the stakeholders, including local communities. HonMthembualso noted the significant role of the South African National Parks (SANParks) at the public hearings as well as the police force involved in Rhino protection and also the attendance of the Hawks provincial head (Mpumalanga). Indeed, the public hearings turned out to be a unique opportunity for “Bringing the Government to the people and the people to the Government”, as the Minister would certainly raise those crosscutting issues not wholly in her portfolio with her colleagues in the Cabinet or cluster. HonMthembu affirmed the fact that the Minister had responded to certain issues raised well, but would still expect the Department to respond to Parliament on those issues to assist MPs, as public representatives ,to engage fully with their respective communities on those same issues. In fact, there might be instances that certain community members might have been raising the same issues with the MPs themselves for some time now.

The Chairperson of the Committee also thanked the provincial leadership in the three provinces, the local Government and the tribal authorities in the six localities where the public hearings were held for their hospitality, participation and for their useful and candid contributions and discussions.Finally , HonMthembu thanked the local communities for the good turn-up, their passionate inputs and commitment during the hearings. He equally noted the significant inputs of businesspeople, and their willingness to make further written submissions. HonMthembu thanked the caterers and the parliamentary staff for their dedication and commitment to make the public hearings happen in all the six localities in the three provinces.

He assured all the delegates of the unique ability and resilience of the nation to emerge from difficult situations triumphantly. He reminded them that not long ago the country was gripped by regular occurrences of “cash-in-transit heists” that no one saw a way out of, but today we are fully in control of this crime. Equally so, were ATM bombings throughout the country, but this too has been stemmed out. The Killing of our Rhinos might threaten to behave like a runaway train, but this too will be brought under complete control with the zeal of our people. Poachers and Rhino criminal syndicates who choose to underestimate us are doing so at their own peril wherever they are. We will emerge victorious, as long as we nurture strategic partnerships among ourselves as South Africans and also with our allies in consumer States in the fight against the killing of our Rhinos. The arrest of a Rhino horn illegal trader in Singapore six days after the shooting of the Rhino for that horn in the Kruger National Park is a case in point.


The public hearings received a wide media coverage both prior and during the holding of the public hearings in the three provinces. For example, the Chairperson of the Committee convened a press conference on 27 th August 2014 in Parliament that was attended by key media houses (SABC, eTV, Cape Argus, Cape Times, Die Burger, New Age, SAPA & SAFM), and the Chairperson’s press statement was printed in both national and regional newspapers. The rationale for holding the press conference was to create and raise public awareness on the three themes on which the public hearings would be conducted, that is, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), illicit killing of Rhinos and Climate Change. The Committee believesthat t he media represent important channels for information that can empower people to effect positive changes. It could inform vulnerable communities of the impacts of climate change and how they could adapt to them, and could as well promote mitigation activities that limit the amount of warming the Earth experiences. High-quality media coverage of climate change and Rhino killing could deliver betterinformedpublics capable of taking appropriate measures in dealing with these challenges and promote sustainable outcomes.

Furthermore, the public hearings themselves turned out to be a goldmine of information and awareness raising on the three strategic and complex issues. The hearings notably raised awareness by informing and educating people about the three issues under consideration ,with the intention of influencing their attitudes, behaviours and beliefs towards the sustainability of Rhinos, especially those communities that border national parks. Indeed, the public hearings promoted the visibility and credibility of the three issues within the communities in the three provinces where the hearings were conducted. They provided a unique opportunity for interactive communication flow, awareness-raising, which opened opportunities for information exchange in order to improve mutual understanding and to develop competencies and skills necessary to understand and engage in discussions on those SDGs and Targets closest to the hearts of poor stakeholders. Furthermore, the full awareness and educational impact of the print media during the public hearings and the airing of discussions and interviews on the same public hearings by local radio stations, could be phenomenal, considering the nation-wide coverage of some of those mass media. After all, the Committee believes that a fully aware and well-informed South African public is a fundamental prerequisite for sustainable development at whatever level and scale.

The extensive awareness raising and educational aspects of the public hearings could be attributed to the significant role of media both before and during the hearings. We can now comfortably say that media are the most important factor that underlie the knowledge of environmental problems, as mass media are accessible to large proportions of the population due to their extensive ,country -wide coverage. M edia played a vital role in creating people’s awareness about the SDGs, killing of Rhinos and Climate Change by means of its multi-channel regional and network service, comprising programmes such as talkshows and interviews that the Chairperson of the Committee participated in during the public hearings. It is anticipated that the public hearings and the wide coverage by the media has truly brought to a halt in a significant way the participation of members of local communities in Rhino poaching activities in our protected areas, considering the overwhelming unanimity by people toimmediately stop the illicit killing of Rhinos. It was indeed significant to see how the public hearings coupled to the media succeeded to mobilisethe public mind to protect Rhinos.Thus , it can comfortably be stated that the public hearings as well as the media played quite a significant role in influencing mass awareness and education against the killing of Rhinos.

  1. Oversight visit to the Kruger national Park

Reflecting on the passionate pleas by South Africans at the public hearings in the three provinces, the Committee decided to visit the Kruger National Park, the ‘Rhino killing hotspot ’ to see for itself the reasons that make the protection of Rhinos in this flagship Park a huge challenge for SANParks and all participating strategic partners.It was in this context that the Committee flew to the Kruger National Park on 24 th September 2014 to interact with SANParksand its board and other key role-players involved in Rhino protection, notably the police, especially the Special Taskforce; military (SANDF); Park rangers; and senior departmental staff, as SANParks is one of the entities of the Department of Environmental Affairs. Members of the Committee and the staff were accommodated at the Nkambeni Tented Safari Lodge in the Kruger National Park.It suffices to state that the NkambeniSafari Lodge is a successful 50/50 partnership between the Mhaule Rural Community and private capital. It offers a unique rustic, eco-friendly accommodation with all the sights, sounds and smells of unadulterated nature in one of South Africa’s most beautiful wildlife areas, the Kruger National Park. It was obvious that the owners and/or the management of the Nkambeni Safari Lodge are committed to the preservation of pristine wilderness areas, as their tented suites were designed and built on wooden stilts to ensure minimum impact on the natural habitat of the area.

8.1 Community-Private Partnership Model at the Nkambeni Safari Lodge

In the community-private partnership model at work in the Nkambeni Safari Lodge, community members serve as volunteers in the running of the Lodge. The volunteers take guests on a day tour of the Local Community and witness their contribution to conservation. The Community Tour also takes guests to the George Mhaule School where they could witness the feeding schemes and the nutrient drink production plant in the area.Guests have the opportunity to get down and dirty by assisting in the Community Organic Farming Project, which is considered a world first in concept and design and enjoys the direct support and participation of the South African Government. The full-time Marimba Band offers a unique opportunity for visitors to observe or participate in riveting gumboot and traditional Shangaan dancing and drumbeating Friday and Saturday evenings. Visitors could also book those dances on request at an additional charge. Volunteers further take guests in vehicles that are designed to allow close interaction with wildlife on a half- and full-day safaris in the Kruger National Park. There is a standing understanding between the partners that all recruitments of staff to work at the Nkambeni Safari Lodge are made from the Local Community. This means that all current trainers (on identifying tracks and signs of wildlife); guides and drivers; and all housekeeping staff, among others, were recruited from the surrounding Local Community. Furthermore, profits that derive from the running of the Nkambeni Lodge and associated activities are shared equally between the Local Community and the private business partner.

  1. Briefing and helicopter flights over the Intensive protection zone

Major-General, Johan Jooste , who heads the anti-poaching team in the Kruger National Park (KNP) presented the KNP Special Project, outlining the “Anti-Rhino Poaching Strategy”, which essentially is an overview of the approach to be used in curbing the ongoing rampant illegal killing of Rhinos in the KNP.The presentation identified greed and poverty as well as high demands for Rhino horn as primary factors driving the illegal killing of Rhinos; the anatomy of the illicit trade; and the characteristics and tools of trade of a poacher. The growing statistics of the killings, from 2012 to date; the number of weapons recovered from the Game Reserves United (55), KNP (26) and Mozambique (19); the tactical capabilities; and the environmental asset protection alliance also featured in the presentation. General Jooste indicated that the KNP has been divided into three protection zones to ensure the successful protection of the environmental asset currently under threat. The Composite Protection Zone covers approximately the northern third of the Park, with the Joint Protection Zone in the middle and the Intensive Protection Zone falling in approximately the southern third of the Park. The Intensive Protection Zone makes use of various integrated technology-intensive enablers to ensure the maximum protection of Rhinos in this ‘stronghold’. It is over this Zone that the Committee and relevant stakeholders flew in helicopters on the 25 th September to interact with key Rhino protection alliance members to assess the adequacy of implementation of the “ Anti-Rhino Poaching Strategy” on which the Committee was briefed earlier in the day .

The four helicopters that took off from the grounds of the Nkambeni Lodge landed at a lone Ranger Post, after flying over the scene of two Rhino carcasses, where it was stated that a Ranger Post normally has about 15-20 rangers. The sight of the carcasses in the Intensive Protection Zone clearly indicated the bald- facedness of poachers to get their hands on Rhino horns despite the immense risks, and in a sense highlighted the magnitude of the challenge that the SANParks and the alliancepartners face in protecting Rhinos. Members of the Committee asked for clarity on accommodating certain rangers in tents while others occupied formal houses. SANParks and members of the Executive Management of the Department stated that the tents provided accommodation for the newly recruited rangers, but that plans were underway to upgrade all the ranger houses and other facilities in the Park to make it a liveable home for them and their families. Taking off from the Ranger Post, many Rhinos were sighted, buoying the spirits of the parliamentary delegationafter having been earlier upset by the two carcasses. In fact, in an area of approximately 500-metre radius, about 15 to 20 Rhinos were sighted, which indicated that despite the huge challenge of Rhino killings, SANParks and the alliance partners were working hard at protecting the Rhinos. Many more Rhinos were seen in groups of twos, threes, fours and even more on the way from the Ranger post all way through until the delegation landed at the Military Outpost to pay a courtesy visit to the SANDF members at the Post. The Chairperson of the Committee, HonMthembu introduced the Committee and departmental staff to the SANDF members at the base. He deeply acknowledged their crucial role in protecting Rhinos in the Kruger National Park against illicit killing by members of criminal syndicates.

From the Military Output, the delegation landed at a Police Special Taskforce base in the Kruger National where the Commander of the Special Taskforce “Operation Rhino” received the delegation. Colonel Vermeulen‘Rubber ’ outlined the mandate of the Special Taskforce both broadly and specifically with respect to Operation Rhino in the Kruger National Park. It was stated that the Taskforce made additional deployment of resources on 1 st September, including a team busy with the recruitment of informants at the time. The major concern highlighted by Colonel Rubber was that unless additional budgetary commitments were made, the budget of the Special Taskforce would allow them to remain in the Park only until the end of October 2014. The Chairperson of the Committee assured the commanding officers of the Taskforce that Parliament would certainly intervene, if requested by the Taskforce for them to remain in the Park as a critical alliance partner in Rhino protection. The Special Taskforce Commander stated that they would appreciate it, if the law could be changed to prosecute offenders who are found illegally in the Park from trespassing to something serious to deter poachers from entering national parks, in general. Finally, the delegation was shown a group of highly trained Rangers and their gear that could allow them to go on extended individual patrols of up to seven days before returning to their post or base. The Chairperson of the Committee thanked the members of the Special Taskforce for the good work that they were doing in protecting the nation’s natural heritage.

From the Special Taskforce base, the delegation flew and landed at the Southern African Wildlife College where the delegation had lunch, and were presented the training mandate of the College in the ever-changing African conservation landscape.The delegation was taken around to see the training profile of the College; its mechanical workshop; and also to see the selection process and training of Rangers for the Kruger National Park. The Chairperson of the Committee, HonMthembu asked the CEO of the College, Ms Theresa Sowry , to state how the College benefitted the surrounding communities. Ms Sowry responded that lack of benefits to surrounding communities had been the criticism of the College, and it was in that respect that the communities threatened to burn the College. However, she affirmed that this situation has changed recentlyas the College offers bridging courses and training ‘attachments’ that benefit members of the surrounding communities. The delegation left the College in the four helicopters to land at a site where a forensic investigation and/or autopsy was being conducted on a Rhino that was put down by a Ranger on the previous day upon the realisation that poachers had shot the Rhino and had removed the horn, yet the Rhino was alive, without any hope for recovery. The SANParks veterinary team working on the Rhino carcase were collecting information on the human DNA, Rhino DNA and also sought to determine bullet entry and exit points.

The delegation flew to the Air-wing Section of the SANParks to see the evolution of the Section over the years, and its future plans, including the establishment of a high-tech “Anti-poaching Coordination Room” that records, among other things, sounds of gun shots and mobility of law enforcement agents on the ground in real time. The parliamentary delegation flew back to the Nkambeni Safari Lodge.

Finally, the delegation was briefed at the headquarters of the Kruger National Park in Skukuza by SANParks officials, providing the overview of the Park, vision, mandate and economic impact. The Committee was presented the genesis of the Park and its development over the years, its scope and challenges, especially with respect to Wildlife-Human Conflict for which there is currently no legislation. A significant part of the presentation dwelt on the Park’s enterprise and socio-economic development programme, highlighting existing contractual park agreements in the area, using the Nkambeni Safari Lodge and its operations, as an example.SANParks further indicated that overall one per cent of all gate fees paid for entry into national parks goes to local communities to facilitate provision of essential community services such as schools and their equipping with computers and water services, inter alia .


for Parliament

· Parliament should ensure that all relevant portfolio committees work jointly (e.g. PC on Water and Sanitation, PC on Energy, PC on Mineral Resources, etc.) to ensure that the SDGs and their respective Targets are implemented effectively to achieve their relevant yet to be developed indicators. There is also a need for the Committees of the National Legislature to work jointly with their provincial counterparts in planning and synchronising oversight work, and where possible councillors from the local municipalities where oversight visits would be conducted, should also come on board in order to attend holistically to the service delivery concerns at the grassroots.

· Parliament should ensure through effective oversight that relevant SDGs and Targets as well as Indicators are mainstreamed into the strategic plans of the corresponding departments upon the formal adoption of the SDGs towards the end of 2015, and that appropriate budgetary considerations are made to realise the efficient implementation of those strategic plans and annual performance plans.

· Parliament should support South Africa’s negotiating position on climate change and use its participation in Global Legislators Organisation, GLOBE, to advance the country’s negotiating position by seeking strategic alliances, notably with the European Union (EU) legislators and legislators from other BRICS countries.

· Parliament should communicate to the National Executive the clear mandate that South Africans have given to the national Government via the parliamentary process of public hearings to represent them and negotiate on their behalf on relevant multilateral forums where climate change negotiations take place. They fully support the South African Government’sclimate change negotiating position. Similarly, South Africans considered the SDGs in its current draft form appropriate and offered their unqualified support to their Government to represent them in future discussions and processes that seek to finalise the SDGs for adoption towards the end of 2015.

· Parliament, through this Committee, should engage the National Prosecuting Authority or other competent authority expeditiously to effect changes in relevant criminal legislation (e.g., the Trespass Act, 1959 [Act 6 of 1959]) in order to enable the prosecution of armed poachers and their accomplices caught in protected areas for more serious offences, rather than merely for trespass and illegal possession of a firearm to deter illegal entry into protected areas. In fact, this is a request made by the Police Special Taskforce (one of the key members of the Rhino protection alliance) currently based inside the Kruger National Park.

· Parliament should engage its Mozambican counterpart to sensitise them to the plight of South African Rhinos, with the aim of ultimately generating the necessary level of awareness and legislative activism in that country to effectively facilitate the prosecution of poachers on the Mozambican side of the border. There is indeed a need for South Africa to collaborate with Mozambique at different levels to assist cross-border investigations and prosecution.

· Similarly, Parliament, through this Committee should engage relevant parliamentary committees in consumer States to sensitise them to the challenges of Rhino conservation in our country, and that we need their cooperation and support to enable us to protect South African Rhino populations for the whole global community. Being public representatives, we would expect them to initiate progressive legislation in their respective countries to disallow illegal trade. They also have the potential to raise public awareness in their respective countries and communities by integrating Save the Rhino Campaign in their constituency work.

· Parliament should engage more proactively with relevant non-governmental organisations as well as community-based organisations to garner their support for Rhino protection and also to facilitate integrating their views in the fight against the illegal killing of Rhinos, and in dealing with broader development changes, including climate change.


It is indeed appropriate for the Department to consider some of the suggestions that people made at the public hearings, particularly in terms of the relentless killing of Rhinos in our national parks and other forms of protected areas. The Committee supports the following recommendations and hence recommends that the Department and/or SANParks respond to them, and inform the Committee about the progress thereof, in the first quarter of 2015:

· There is a need for tighter security measures, eg fencing, on the Mozambique border, which were brought down in the spirit of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. There were discussions between the Minister of Environmental Affairs and her Mozambican counterpart on this issue. It should not only be about erecting fences this time, but incorporating devices that could detect movement beneath the fences and hence alert law enforcement agents to respond appropriately. The Department should report on what has been done to put up the fences equipped with detectors.

· Tighter monitoring strategies on all vehicles entering and leaving the Kruger National Park should be implemented, irrespective of whether they belong to law enforcement agencies, considering that certain law enforcement agents and officials were implicated in Rhino poaching.

· There needs to be regular lifestyle audits among SANParks staff to ensure that none of them undermines the efforts being put into law enforcement to protect Rhinos.

· There is a need for a prompt response to the concerns expressed about the poor disposal of disposable nappies before they are washed into water courses and threaten the aquatic system or clog drainage systems, thereby posing both environmental and health risk in semi-urban areas. The Department should investigate and establish liability in this regard, considering that the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No 107 of 1998) requires the adoption of the principle of cradle-to- grave in dealing with waste management in the Republic.

· SANParks should furnish the Committee with a detailed breakdown of an average Ranger’s remuneration in the Kruger National Park in the light of the fact that certain Rangers have been implicated in the killing of Rhinos.

· The Department should ensure that reasonable efforts are made (by SANParks) to facilitate community-private partnerships (e.g., the Nkambeni Model) in buffer zones of national parks to create the sense of ownership of these parks in the communities who live in their proximity, and hence promote the protection of these environmental assets better. Existing private businesses operating within national parks should be conditioned to incorporate community dimensions where there are no feasible opportunities in buffer zones.

Report to be considered.

[1] At the time of compiling this report (16 th October 2014), 868 Rhinos had been killed, with 557 of the animals killed in the Kruger National Park alone.

[2] Nangammbi , D. (2007) Poverty influences environmental degradation [Internet]. Available from < > (Accessed on 18 th September 2014).

[3] Minns , G. (2012) Rhino horn is not medicine : A view from the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine. The Horn Magazine (autumn): 7-8.

[4] Mead, D. (2013) The Rhino Horn Crisis and the Darknet [Internet]. Available from < > (Accessed on 6 th February 2014).


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