Parliament, Sunday, 18 September 2022 - The Portfolio Committee on Environment, Forestry and Fisheries has today concluded its three-day public hearings on the National Veld and Forest Fire Amendment Bill in Gauteng Province.

The three-day public hearings were held in the province’s three district municipalities, West Rand, Sedibeng, and in the Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality. Residents in all these districts attended the hearings in their numbers and expressed their support for the Bill.

In the West Rand District, residents proposed that the Bill should include a clause that outlines punitive measures against municipalities that fail to implement veld fire prevention mechanisms. They also proposed that the role of a peace officer as inserted in Clause 6 of the Bill should be clearly defined.

Clause 6 of the Bill deals with implementation of Chapter 8 of the Act and provides for the insertion of peace officers and traditional leaders to enforce the Act under certain conditions.

In the Sedibeng District, residents proposed that peace officers should be appointed through a transparent process which should be facilitated directly by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries. According to them, such a process would prevent nepotism and corruption.

In the Tshwane metro, residents expressed support for the Bill because they believe that it will minimise the impact of veld fires. Some said veld fires are a threat to food security and to ecosystem.

In all of the three public hearings, residents used the opportunity of interacting with the Members of Parliament to raise service delivery challenges, including environmental pollution, land for farming and residential purposes, lack of lease agreements, water scarcity, and crime. The committee listened to all the inputs and made an undertaking to refer all the issues to the relevant structures, including other committees in Parliament, Gauteng provincial government, and municipalities.

The committee is left with Eastern Cape as well as Western Cape provinces before it completes public hearings in all the nine provinces.

The committee has not expressed its views on the Bill yet. The Chairperson of the committee, Ms Faith Muthambi, said that the committee will only deliberate when all the comments on the Bill are consolidated. Its view on the Billwill be in its report on the Bill which will be tabled and debated in the National Assembly.

ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT, FORESTRY AND FISHERIES, MS FAITH MUTHAMBI

For media enquiries or interviews with the Chairperson, please contact the committee’s Media Officer:

Name: Mr Justice Molafo

Tel: 021 403 8444

Cell: 081 424 748

Email: jmolafo@parliament.gov.za