The department of mineral resources wasted close to R700 000 in taxpayers’ money because it failed to follow up on a court case.
“This begs the question: how many other court cases follow a similar route?” asked Hendrik Schmidt, the Democratic Alliance spokesperson on mineral resources.
Schmidt submitted a written question to the department of mineral resources to find out why it had failed to submit answering affidavits in a court challenge with Glencore.
In its response, the department of mineral resources acknowledged it had to pay Glencore an amount of R696 828, which includes the repayment of a R500 000 administrative fine plus interest at 15.5% per year from August 2013.
In February this year the court set aside a fine that Glencore had to pay, following a mining accident at its South Witbank Colliery in Mpumalanga that left one contractor dead in 2012. The company was ordered to pay a R500 000 fine due to a lack of proper supervision during underground operations.
Glencore challenged the decision in court and although the department instructed the state attorney to oppose the challenge, the Mine Health and Safety Inspectorate failed to submit answering affidavits during the case.
“This is an abbuse of the legal process,” said Schmidt, “as any respondent in a court matter is obliged to submit an answering affidavit. In this case the court had no record of the department of mineral resources’ response, because it hadn’t been submitted in the first place.”
In its response, the department said a legal counsel was appointed to handle the Glencore challenge. “Counsel requested certain information from the department and such information was provided. There was no feedback from the state attorney on the matter until judgment was granted.”
The department said it was investigating the reasons why the answering affidavits had not been filed as required.