Environmental enforcement remains a problem in South African environmental law. This may be attributed partly to the lack of capacity and insufficient resources within national and provincial government. It also may be a consequence of the continued use of so-called 'command and control' approaches to environmental enforcement, as environmental regulation does not provide sufficient incentives to encourage sustainable industrial practices by way of self-regulation. The predominant 'command and control' mechanism for enforcement is the criminal sanction. Whilst criminal sanctions may play an important deterring role, they have until recently, largely been ineffective in South African environmental law mainly because the penalties for environmental damage are seldom severe enough to deter polluters. It has been noted also that the use of criminal sanctions may not necessarily lead to environmental improvement. Authors have thus advocated the adoption of
alternatives to criminal sanctions to address environmental abuse in South Africa.