Saai files High Court application on behalf of game farmers- South Africa

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Saai, an organisation that protects the rights and interests of family farmers – including game farmers – has filed an urgent application in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria today to lift the ban on interprovincial travel for subsistence hunting purposes.

The application is filed on behalf of 368 game farm owners and operators and seeks to set aside directives 2, 3(a) and 3(b) of the Amended Directives relating to the Biodiversity Sector published in Government Notice No. 822 in Government Gazette No. 43564 of 28 July 2020 (as well as the amendments made on 7 August 2020).

Because of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown, subsistence hunting was only allowed during Level 3, with the publication of the amended Biodiversity Directives on 5 June 2020 – more than a month after the hunting season commenced. The Department of Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries confirmed to Saai, in a letter dated 22 June 2020, that a person may travel across provincial borders for subsistence hunting purposes and stated: “We are cognisant of the fact that game farm owners are in dire need of generating income that is much needed for the successful continuation of the business ventures …”.

“This year South African game farmers were unable to host international hunters, which resulted in a loss of approximately R2 billion in income. That is why we were relieved to receive the news that local subsistence hunting was allowed. Our organisation assisted with the generation of more than 18 000 hunting travel permits between 5 June 2020 and 28 July 2020 as we knew that this was the only income game farmers would be able to get this year,” says Francois Rossouw, CEO of Saai.

On 28 July 2020, to the utter surprise of all stakeholders involved, the Department of Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries published the amended Biodiversity Directives which removed subsistence hunting as a permitted service under the Level 3 regulations. On 31 July 2020, Barbara Creecy, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries, clarified her decision by saying hunters are allowed to sleep over at their hunting destinations, within the province in which they live.

Our data shows that approximately 88% of hunters hunt outside their province and thus the prohibition on interprovincial travel was a huge blow to an industry that contributes approximately R12 billion a year to the South African economy,” adds Rossouw.

It is Saai’s contention that the latest regulations violate the constitutional rights of game farmers, is extremely vague and was made in an irrational manner – both decisional and procedurally.

Saai dien aansoek in by Hooggeregshof namens wildboere

Saai, ’n organisasie wat die regte en belange van familieboere – insluitend wildboere – beskerm, het vandag ’n dringende aansoek by die Noord-Gautengse Hooggeregshof in Pretoria ingedien om die verbod op reis tussen provinsies vir bestaansjagdoeleindes op te hef.

Die aansoek is namens 368 wildplaaseienaars en -operateurs ingedien en het ten doel om voorskrifte 2, 3(a) en 3(b) van die gewysigde riglyne wat betrekking het op die biodiversiteitsektor tersyde te stel, wat op 28 Julie 2020 in Staatskennisgewing no. 822 in Staatskoerant no. 43564 gepubliseer is, asook die wysigings wat op 7 Augustus 2020 aangebring is.

Vanweë COVID-19 en die daaropvolgende inperking, is bestaansjag eers tydens vlak 3 toegelaat met die publikasie van die gewysigde biodiversiteitsriglyne op 5 Junie 2020 – meer as ’n maand ná die aanvang van die jagseisoen. Die Departement van Omgewingsake, Bosbou en Visserye het op 22 Junie 2020 in ’n brief aan Saai bevestig dat persone oor provinsiale grense mag reis vir bestaansjagdoeleindes, en het gesê: “Ons is bewus van die feit dat wildplaaseienaars ’n dringende behoefte daaraan het om ’n inkomste te genereer wat broodnodig is vir die suksesvolle voortsetting van die sakeondernemings …”.

“Suid-Afrikaanse wildboere kon nie vanjaar internasionale jagters ontvang nie, wat ’n verlies van omtrent R2 miljard in inkomste tot gevolg gehad het. Om dié rede was ons verlig toe daar aangekondig is dat bestaansjag toegelaat word. Met die bystand wat Saai aan mense gebied het, is daar tussen 5 Junie 2020 en 28 Julie 2020 meer as 18 000 reispermitte vir jagdoeleindes uitgereik, want ons het besef dit is die enigste inkomste wat wildboere vanjaar sou verdien,” sê Francois Rossouw, uitvoerende hoof van Saai.

Op 28 Julie 2020 het die Departement van Omgewingsake, Bosbou en Visserye egter tot die uiterste verbasing van alle rolspelers die gewysigde biodiversiteitsriglyne gepubliseer, wat behels het dat bestaansjag nie meer binne die regulasies van vlak 3 toegelaat sal word nie. Barbara Creecy, die Minister van Omgewingsake, Bosbou en Visserye, het haar besluit op 31 Julie 2020 verduidelik deur te sê jagters mag by hul jagbestemmings oornag indien dit in die provinsie is waar hulle woon.

 “Ons data toon dat omtrent 88% van jagters buite hul eie provinsies gaan jag. Die verbod op reis tussen provinsies is dus ’n reuseslag vir ’n bedryf wat ongeveer R12 miljard per jaar tot die Suid-Afrikaanse ekonomie bydra,” voeg Rossouw by.

Saai is oortuig dat die nuutste regulasies die grondwetlike regte van wildboere skend, uiters vaag is en – wat besluitneming sowel as prosedure aanbetref – op ’n irrasionele wyse opgestel is.


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