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Green Scorpions are the name given to the more than 600 Environmental Management Inspectors (EMI’s) roaming South Africa. The Green Scorpions basically enforce environmental law, and subsequently chase down those who trespasses this law. The primary areas of enforcement include biodiversity, protected areas, pollution and waste, as well as coastal, marine and environmental impact assessment. The Green Scorpions are made up of different levels of Environmental Management Inspectors, each of which has different powers when it comes to investigating and enforcing environmental legislation.

How do the Green Scorpions enforce
Environmental Law?


The degree to which South Africa’s environmental laws are enforced have been facilitated, as the national network of environmental officials which makes up the Green Scorpions share intelligence, experience, standardized training, and standardized procedures. During the course of their duties, the Green Scorpions have the authority to enter premises in order to perform routine inspections to check for compliance, arrest people, question witnesses, seize evidence, take samples, establish roadblocks, and issue compliance notices.

What are the main differences between Scorpions
and Green Scorpions


Some fundamental differences between the Scorpions and the Green Scorpions are as follows:

  • The Scorpions are part of a single institution; they are a directorate of the national prosecuting authority, while the Green Scorpions are a network of environmental enforcement officials drawn from many spheres of government;
  • The Green Scorpions do not only chase down green criminals; they also have the authority to issue notices which force offenders to comply with environmental legislation;
  • While the Scorpions can investigate and prosecute offenders, the Green Scorpions cannot go as far as the courts, which means they have to hand over their criminals to the national prosecuting authority to handle their prosecution on behalf of them.

Which Acts do the Green Scorpions enforce?


The main acts which the Green Scorpions are mandated to enforce are the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA), including all its promulgated regulations, such as the Air Quality Act, the Protected Areas Act, and the Biodiversity Act.

Who can be designated as Green Scorpions?


Only people who are employed by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), provincial environment departments, municipal governments, or quasi-government bodies such as Sanparks, Sanbi, or the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park Authority can be designated as Green Scorpions.

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