FOUR landmark interdicts were made final yesterday in the Durban high court against unauthorised developers in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, SA's first World Heritage Site in northern Zululand.
The interdicts follow a plea bargain in a case in the Pietermaritzburg regional court on October 22 when Ellisras businessman-architect Renier Roos was fined R100000 and sentenced to five years in prison, with R70000 and the sentence suspended for five years.
He was ordered to immediately rehabilitate the site within the park, which he had begun to develop illegally. This has been completed.
Yesterday's interdicts involved four unauthorised developments within the ecologically sensitive Coastal Forest Reserve section of the park.
Two developments were being marketed as the Beach Camp and iNkwazi Resort.
The others are named as the Bronkhost Resort site and the Joubert site.
The final orders restrain the respondents from conducting any commercial or tourism activities in the park.
They are also required, at their own cost, to remove all structures and foreign materials on the sites and rehabilitate them by the end of the year, except the Beach Camp which has until April 30 2010 to comply as they are currently trading.
If the respondents fail to do this, the park may remove structures and rehabilitate the sites and claim costs.
The applicants, the iSimangaliso Authority, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs argued that the developers were clearing virgin forest and erecting structures without permission, and without an environmental impact assessment.
They also argued that it also denied people who comply with and follow park rules an equal opportunity to develop commercial opportunities within the park.
"The action of one unauthorised development to the environment is incalculable. It is the thin edge of the wedge," said iSimangaliso chief executive Andrew Zaloumis.
"We appeal to would-be developers to do the right thing and follow due processes to ensure sustainable developments and real community benefits through jobs creation and co-ownership."
Deputy director-general for Environmental Quality and Protection from the Department of Environmental Affairs Joanne Yawitch, said: "Green Scorpions from the national Department of Environmental Affairs, iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife have agreed to pool their resources to bring an end to unauthorised development within the Coastal Forest Reserve section."