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Kwanalu

The voice of agriculture . Die stem van landbou . Izwe lezokulima

Oorwinning in waterregtesaak |  Victory in water rights case

English to follow:

8 November 2021

Die Hoogste hof van Appèl (die Appèlhof) het bevind dat waterreghouers die reg het om sodanige regte oor te dra ingevolge die bepalings van die Nasionale Waterwet en dat dit nie verbode of onwettig is om handel te dryf in sodanige regte nie.

Die hofuitspraak is gelewer deur regter Clive Plasket namens die meerderheid van die Appèlhof-regters (met ’n minderheidsuitspraak deur regter Tati Makgoka). Dit volg nadat die hoërhof in Pretoria drie aansoeke met betrekking tot Lötter-, Wiid- en South African Association of Water Users Associations (SAAFWUA) vir ’n verklarende bevel oor die korrektheid van ’n omsendbrief deur die Departement van Water en Sanitasie (uitgestuur in Januarie 2018) van die hand gewys het. Hierin het die departement bepaal dat watergebruiksregte nie oorgedra mag word nie.

Agri SA het van die begin af die regskoste in die Lötter- en Wiid-sake met fondse uit sy Vrywillige Waterfonds gedek.

“Die uitspraak is uiters belangrik vir Agri SA en ander partye,” sê Janse Rabie, hoof van Agri SA se Sentrum van Uitnemendheid: Natuurlike Hulpbronne. “Die vermoë om waterregte wettig ingevolge die bepalings van artikel 25 van die Nasionale Waterwet oor te dra, is noodsaaklik, veral vir die besproeiingsektor. Die oordraagbaarheid van watergebruiksregte ingevolge die Nasionale Waterwet is sedert die begin deur die Departement van Water en Sanitasie beoog en aktief ondersteun.”

Die aangeleentheid is eweneens belangrik vanuit ‘n regsoogpunt, veral met betrekking tot oordrag en verhandeling ingevolge die wet, meen Rabie. “Hierdie uitspraak deur die Appèlhof dien as regverdiging vir die posisie wat Agri SA en ander ingeneem het oor die korrekte vertolking van die Suid-Afrikaanse wet.”

’n Moontlike besluit deur die DWS om teen die uitspraak te appelleer, word afgewag.

Navrae:

Janse Rabie

Agri SA Hoof: Natuurlike Hulpbronne

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The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has ruled that water rights holders are entitled to transfer such rights in accordance with the provisions of the National Water Act and that the trading in such rights is not prohibited or unlawful.

The judgement, delivered on behalf of the majority of the judges of the SCA by Justice Clive Plasket (with a dissenting judgement by Justice Tati Makgoka), follows from three appeals in the Lötter, Wiid and South African Association of Water Users Associations (SAAFWUA) matters against a judgement by the Pretoria High Court in June 2020. In this matter the Pretoria Court dismissed the applications for a declaratory order on the correctness of a circular by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), dating from January 2018, in which the DWS determined that water use entitlements could not be transferred.

Agri SA footed the legal costs for the Lötter and Wiid matters from its Voluntary Water Fund from the outset.

“The judgement has enormous significance for Agri SA and others,” says Janse Rabie, head of Agri SA’s Natural Resources Centre of Excellence. “The ability to legally be able to transfer water use entitlements in accordance with the provisions of section 25 of the NWA is vital, particularly for the irrigation agricultural sector. The transferability of water use entitlements in terms of the NWA were envisaged right from the outset and actively endorsed and supported by the DWS.”

From a legal point of view, particularly with respect to the transfer and trading of rights in accordance with the law, the issue is equally important, Rabie believes. “This judgement by the SCA is a highly significant vindication of the position held by Agri SA and others concerning the correct interpretation of the law in South Africa.”

A decision by the DWS on whether or not to appeal the ruling is now awaited.

Enquiries:

Janse Rabie

Agri SA head of Natural Resources