NNR Court case: The Replying Affidavit from Becker

The matter concerning Minister Mantashe dismissing Peter Becker from the Board of the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) will be heard in the Western Cape High Court on 9 November 2022. Becker is asking that the decision to dismiss him is reviewed and set aside.

After receiving answering affidavits from Minister Mantashe and also from the Chair of the National Nuclear Regulator, Peter Becker has submitted a replying affidavit in response to the new points raised in the two answering affidavits.

Below is the text of the Replying Affidavit from Becker, which is now in the public court record.

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NNR Court case: The answering affidavit from Minister Mantashe

Minister Mantashe has submitted an affidavit to the High Court in response to a high court application by Peter Becker to review the decision by the Minister to dismiss him from the Board of the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR). Previous posts included the Founding Affidavit, the Supplementary Founding Affidavit and the Answering Affidavit from the NNR and NNR Board Chair. This is the only opportunity for the Minister to present evidence to the court.

The affidavit expresses the view that the function of NNR Board members is to ““Loyally execute the policies of the government of the day” which includes the life extension of Koeberg. The Minister characterises resistance to this plan as “political opposition”, misconduct, and a justified basis for dismissal.

Below is the text of the Answering Affidavit from Minister Mantashe, which is now in the public court record.

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NNR Court case: The answering affidavit from the NNR and the Board Chair

In April 2021 Peter Becker launched a high court application to review the decision by Minister Mantashe to dismiss him from the Board of the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR). Previous posts included the Founding Affidavit and the Supplementary Founding Affidavit. After requesting and being granted a three week extension to the deadline, the Chair of the NNR Board, as the second respondent, and the NNR itself as the third, supplied their combined answering affidavit on 1 August 2022. This is the only opportunity for them to present evidence to the court.

Below is the text of the combined Answering Affidavit from the NNR Board Chair, which is now in the public court record:

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NNR Court case: The Supplementary Founding Affidavit

In April 2021 Peter Becker launched a high court application to review the decision by Minister Mantashe to dismiss him from the Board of the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR). A previous post included the Record of Decision which is a complete record of all the information which the Minister considered when he made the decision. According to the rules of the court, this allowed Becker to supplement his founding affidavit to address any new information which came to light via the release of the Record of Decision.

Below is the full text of that Supplementary Founding Affidavit (SFA).

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Minister Mantashe releases Record of Decision

After appointing Peter Becker to the Board of the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) in June 2021, Minister Mantashe fired him in February 2022. Becker has launched an application in the High Court to have this decision reviewed. This includes a call for the record of the decision, according to Rule 53 of the Uniform Rules of Court. The logic behind this rule is that a court cannot be expected to determine if a decision is rational without seeing what was before the decision maker at the time.

Thirty three documents comprising the record have been released by the Minister via the State Attorney, and are now part of the public court record. These documents are also available at the bottom of this article.

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Civil society rejects calls for NNR nominations

The hiring and firing of Peter Becker by Minister Mantashe has been covered extensively in the press recently. Becker was appointed to the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) Board to represent communities in June 2021, and fired for ‘misconduct’ in February 2022. Becker is in the process of challenging this in the Western Cape High Court, asking that the decision to remove him be reviewed and set aside. 

The Minister and the NNR have until 10 May to produce the record of the decision. Despite this, the Minister recently issued a call for nominations to replace Becker. The deadline for nominations was 6 May.

In a speech in the Eastern Cape on 7 May, Mantashe is reported as saying that he will fire anyone on the NNR Board who does not advocate for nuclear power or ‘resists’ nuclear power. This appears to make it clear that anyone nominated must be someone who will ‘advocate’ for nuclear power, irrespective of the opinions of the communities they are appointed to represent.

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Minister Mantashe and the NNR headed to court

After appointing Peter Becker to the Board of the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) in June 2021, Minister Mantashe fired him in February 2022. Becker has launched an application in the High Court to have this decision reviewed. If successful, it would mean that he would return to his position on the NNR Board.

The Minister’s decision to discharge Becker was based on a complaint in July 2021, shortly after he was appointed. The founding affidavit (linked below) submitted to the court paints a picture of a decision by the Minister based on unsubstantiated allegations combined with a misunderstanding of the role of the NNR.

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Community concerns about Vaalputs nuclear dump not being heard

MEDIA STATEMENT

On 16 March 2022, Peter Becker of Koeberg Alert Alliance (KAA) presented to a workshop organised by the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) in the Northern Cape. SAFCEI and the KAA sometimes work together informally on matters that affect communities. 

Community members wanted to understand more about how nuclear power works, and also how to learn more about the waste which is disposed of at Vaalputs. 

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Nuclear safety concerns sparked by dismissal of community representative

Statement from the South African Faith Communities Environment Institute
Released 4 March 2022

It has now been just over a week since Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe fired Peter Becker (on 25 February) – the community representative on the board of the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR), a position that is required by law – and many communities and civil society organisations are seething. Many feel that this dismissal implies, especially for those communities who live in the surrounding areas of Koeberg and near sites that government has earmarked for nuclear (such as Thyspunt), that their safety and their concerns about nuclear energy will either be silenced or will not effectively be dealt with.

According to Francesca de Gasparis, Executive Director at the Southern African Faith Communities’ Institute (SAFCEI), “This dismissal also sends the wrong message to current and future board members, who may not want to risk their position by speaking out about issues that concern them and those they represent. The role of the community representative on the Board is to represent communities when it comes to developments that could put their wellbeing and livelihoods at risk.”

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Minister Mantashe fires community representative for ‘misconduct’

Minister Mantashe suspended the civil society representative on the Board of the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) on 18 January based on a legal opinion provided to him on 10 October 2021. After a long process of letter writing and providing representations including a clear rebuttal of the allegations made against Peter Becker, the Minister wrote the letter below discharging Becker from the Board.

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