Thursday, January 13, 2011

Minister Scrambles to Purge Contempt of Court Order

By the morning of 13 January 2011, the Minister and her officials remained in contempt of the Court Order dated 5 January 2011 which ordered her to unconditionally issue 3 permits to the abalone right holder, Mr Scott Russell.

Although she initially refused to adhere to the Court Order, the Minister scrambled frantically to issue the 3 permits once Feike, together with Mr Russell's attorney, Mr Shaun Hangone of Von Lieres Cooper Barlow (VLCB), served the actual contempt of court application on her and her senior officials at the Fisheries Branch.

At 12:30 on 13 January 2011, Mr Russell was finally handed all 3 of his permits.

The conduct of Minister and her officials remains shocking. Firstly, they contrived bogus and unlawful grounds to "withhold" Mr Russell's permits. They refused to listen to reason, which forced Mr Russell to approach the Western Cape High Court for urgent relief and an order instructing the Minister to issue his permits. And even then, the Minister displayed supreme arrogance by ignoring the Court Order, further forcing Mr Russell to apply for a contempt of court order.

Although Mr Russell has his permits now, he has had to waste a substantial amount of money on legal costs and he has lost an important opportunity to sell his abalone in time for the Chinese New Year which starts on 3 February 2011. The Minister and her officials simply don't care as they nonchalantly expend taxpayers' money to frustrate the rule of law without any consequence or fear of dismissal.

In this matter, however, we will be requesting that the Court order the Minister, the DDG and the Chief Director of Resource Management who wilfully and maliciously frustrated implementation of the Court Order to personally pay the costs incurred by Mr Russell and not to burden the taxpayer (even though their continued employment alone is already a burden).

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