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Mantashe, regulator head to Appeals Court to block anti-nuclear activist from board

Anti-nuclear activist and Koeberg Alert Alliance (KAA) spokesperson Peter Becker. Picture supplied

Anti-nuclear activist and Koeberg Alert Alliance (KAA) spokesperson Peter Becker. Picture supplied

Published Jul 26, 2023


Cape Town - Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe and the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) have lodged an application with the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) to dismiss a high court judgment in favour of anti-nuclear activist Peter Becker.

Mantashe and the NNR lost an earlier court bid in January concerning Becker’s membership of the board when Western Cape High Court Judge Babalwa Mantame ruled Becker’s dismissal last year was “unlawful, unconstitutional and invalid.”

When in May, they lodged an application with the high court for leave to appeal to the SCA, Judge Mantame stood by her initial ruling and refused to grant leave to appeal the matter.

The judge said at the time that Mantashe and the NNR had “not taken the court into its confidence” as to any compelling reasons for an appeal.

Despite two rulings, Mantashe and the NNR have petitioned the SCA directly in a final attempt to keep Becker away from the NNR’s decision-making processes.

The board’s primary purpose is to ensure nuclear activities are conducted safely in South Africa, ultimately in the interests of the public.

Mantashe appointed Becker to the NNR board as a director to represent communities which may be affected by nuclear activities. The appointment in June 2021 was for a three-year term.

However, Becker, who is also the spokesperson for the Koeberg Alert Alliance (KAA), was dismissed by Mantashe after only nine months.

The KAA is a civil society organisation opposed to building further nuclear reactors at Koeberg.

His dismissal came after he raised concerns about Koeberg’s safety in an interview in which he criticised nuclear power.

Yesterday, Becker said he had lodged a cross-appeal in the matter to extend the expiry date of his term of office. The extension would be by the number of days equivalent to those between February 25, last year, when he was dropped from the board, and the date of the SCA’s order.

Becker said all he wanted was to get back to work representing communities on the NNR.

“But while this process is being dragged on to the courts, I’m being prevented from doing that. Meanwhile, my term as a board member is running out, as it expires in June 2024,” he said.

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Cape Argus