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National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998)

Chapter 7 : Compliance, Enforcement and Protection

Part 2 : Application and enforcement of Act and any specific environmental management Act

31H. General powers

 

(1) An environmental management inspector, within his or her mandate in terms of section 31D, may—
(a) question a person about any act or omission in respect of which there is a reasonable suspicion that it might constitute—
(i) an offence in terms of a law for which that inspector has been designated in terms of that section;
(ii) a breach of such law; or
(iii) a breach of a term or condition of a permit, authorisation or other instrument issued in terms of such law;
(b) issue a written notice to a person who refuses to answer questions in terms of paragraph (a), requiring that person to answer questions put to him or her in terms of that paragraph;
(c) inspect, or question a person about, any document, book or record or any written or electronic information—
(i) which may be relevant for the purpose of paragraph (a); or
(ii) to which this Act or a specific environmental management Act relates
(d) copy, or make extracts from, any document, book or record or any written or electronic information referred to in paragraph (c), or remove such document, book, record or written or electronic information in order to make copies or extracts;
(e) require a person to produce or deliver to ,a place specified by the inspector, any document, book or record or any written or electronic information referred to in paragraph (c) for inspection;
(f) inspect, question a person about, and if necessary remove any specimen, article, substance or other item which, on reasonable suspicion, may have been used in—
(i) committing an offence in terms of the law for which that inspector has been designated in terms of section 31D;
(ii) breaching such law; or
(iii) breaching a term or condition of a permit, authorisation or other instrument issued in terms of such law;
(g) take photographs or make audio-visual recordings of anything or any person that is relevant for the purposes of an investigation or for a routine inspection;
(h) dig or bore into the soil;
(i) take samples;
(j) remove any waste or other matter deposited or discharged in contravention of the law for which that inspector has been designated in terms of section 31D or a term or condition of a permit, authorisation or other instrument issued in terms of such law; or other instrument issued in terms of such law; or
(k) carry out any other prescribed duty not inconsistent with this Act and any other duty that may be prescribed in terms of a specific environmental management Act.

 

(2) A written notice issued in terms of subsection (1)(b) must be in the prescribed format and must require a person to answer specified questions either orally or in writing, and either alone or in the presence of a witness, and may require that questions are answered under oath or affirmation.

 

(3) A person who receives a written notice in terms of subsection (1)(b), must answer all questions put to him or her truthfully and to the best of his or her ability, notwithstanding that an answer might incriminate him or her, but any answer that incriminates such person may not be used against him or her in any subsequent criminal proceedings for an offence in terms of this Act or a specific environmental management Act.

 

(4) An environmental management inspector must—
(a) provide a receipt for—
(i) any document, book, record or written or electronic information removed in terms of subsection 1(d); or-
(ii) any specimen, article, substance or other item removed in terms of subsection (1)(f); and
(b) return anything removed within a reasonable period or, subject to section 34D, at the conclusion of any relevant criminal proceedings.

 

(5) In addition to the powers set out in this Part, an environmental management inspector must be regarded as being a peace officer and may exercise all the powers assigned to a peace officer, or to a police official who is not a commissioned officer, in terms of Chapters 2, 5, 7 and 8 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (Act No. 51 of 1977)-
(a) to comply with his or her mandate in terms of section 31D; and
(b) within the area of jurisdiction for which he or she has been designated.