Safety at Sport and Recreational Events Bill [B7-2009]: public hearings continued

Sports, Arts and Culture

18 August 2009
Chairperson: Mr B Komphela (ANC) & Co-Chairperson: Ms L Chikunga (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee was presented with submissions from the South African Rugby Union (SARU) and Mr Desmond Grootboom (Managing Director, Accredited Solutions for Event Stewarding)

SARU expressed concerns over meeting the minimum safety and security requirements of the Bill and requested a workshop in order to deal with their issues and provide clarity on the provisions of the Bill. Members indicated that they understood SARU’s concerns, but largely felt that these issues could be resolved. An issue of contention for SARU was the authority that the South African Police Service would enjoy over events, which concern the Committee dismissed as largely unwarranted on SARU’s part. The Committee indicated that the requested workshop would take place as soon as possible.

Mr Grootboom presented a submission to the Committee stating that in his view stewards were not security officers and as such should not be subject to the registration and training provisions for security officers. He argued that entrance requirements for stewards needed to be kept to a minimum to allow for access to this particular employment niche for as many people as possible. He stated that the task of a steward was to maintain a visible and professional presence, observing the crowd and calling the appropriate security or emergency professionals when required.

Meeting report

The Chairperson stated that the Bill had been in the making for eight years and that it was not spurred on by the 2010 Soccer World Cup. He added that the Committee had had sight of a draft six years previously but it had been reworked so that it was a far less cumbersome piece of legislation than the original draft. He noted that the Bill was necessary due to the lack of safety at events and the resultant loss of lives in the past and as such was a measure to formalise safety procedures stemming from the findings of the Ngoepe Commission of Inquiry into the Ellis Park soccer disaster. He added that they were not chastising the South African Rugby Union (SARU), but wanted to enhance their safety procedures.

South African Rugby Union (SARU) submission
Mr Steven Roos (Manager: Game Operations, SARU) stated that if the minimum requirements as per the 2006 Safety at Sports and Recreation Events Bill were instituted, they would prove logistically impossible, furthermore the provision of fixtures six months ahead of time would be problematic.

Mr Roos said that concerns raised from a 2006 workshop with Mr Patrick Ronan (Specialist Technical Advisor, Department of Sport & Recreation) included the point that low risk events would be negatively impacted by the minimum safety and security requirements. He recommended that the number of spectators at events classified as low risk be changed from 2000 to 4000 and that these events not be subject to all the minimum requirements as per the provisions of the Bill. Mr Roos stated that even with high and medium risk events, the minimum requirements were way out of proportion. Mr Roos noted that some of these concerns were addressed in the revised draft, but that the finalisation and submission of game fixtures six months prior to the event would be impossible for short notice fixtures and tournaments.

He raised concern that the cost of prescribed minimum safety and security requirements would render provincial matches financially unviable and ruin Provincial Rugby Unions (PRUs). Mr Roos stated that SARU felt that the South African Police Service (SAPS) was given too much authority and that they should not be part of managing the event, but rather only the safety and security component. He added that remote search parks were proving to be problematic for athletes, dignitaries and VIPs who arrived just before the game began. Mr Roos concluded that in principal SARU supported the Bill provided their concerns were taken into account. He proposed that they sit down with Mr Ronan and resolve the issues that SARU had.

Discussion
Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) said that it seemed that they had a ‘one size fits all’ regulation being passed. She asked whether in section 11 of the Bill, it would assist SARU if they introduced a sliding scale grading system for high risk events which could be used to determine grading. This sliding scale could take into account the history of certain fixtures or tournaments regarding safety, security and incidents of violence, with a lower grade allowing for the relaxation of certain regulations.

Mr M Dikgacwi (ANC) stated that if one watched club rugby in the Western Cape, fans and players were fighting each other and as such the risks were not fewer at club level than at larger events. He added that racism was rife and that the minimum requirements should not be relaxed at club level rugby.

Mr T Lee (DA) asked whether the enactment of the Bill would render rugby more expensive to run. He stated that the submission from the PRUs indicated that the timeframes for compliance were too tight and asked whether SARU agreed with their provincial unions.

Mr L Suka (ANC) said that he had thought the presentation would be more interrogative and that he expected more than two pages. He added that on page one, paragraph two; under High Risk Events it said that requirements were “way out of proportion” and that this statement needed to be more specific. Mr Suka stated that on page two, under paragraph three, there seemed to be the implication that SARU thought that the SAPS had match authority and were usurping all authority. He asked if they had a programme with the SAPS when running an event and asked for an example of the usurpation of power by the SAPS.

Mr Roos replied that the concerns were that the National Police Commissioner could cancel an event at the last minute. He added that SARU worked closely with the SAPS and accepted responsibility. Mr Ross stated that they had an excellent relationship with the SAPS, but that in the new Bill, a SAPS captain had the authority to cancel a game immediately and that if they did not comply, they would be breaking the law.

The Chairperson replied that Mr Roos was saying that SAPS was given too much responsibility and that their role should be limited to safety and security. He added that this was in fact the case. He asked whether in the case that SAPS stopped a game for safety and security concerns, whether SARU wanted to go ahead and continue with the game regardless of possible danger. The Chairperson added that the SAPS were not involved in administration, but acted on security and safety considerations and as such there was a contradiction in Mr Roos’ position.

Mr Roos replied that they had not had a problem with the SAPS in the past, but that the new law was too harsh. He stated that SARU’s biggest concern was that if they could not provide six months’ notice of a game, then a SAPS official could legally shut down the game.

The Chairperson asked whether the submission of a fixtures schedule was really a large issue and stated that the Committee would give SARU time to submit in detail on every grievance that they had.

Mr Roos replied that they had had a workshop the previous day with members of the constituent PRUs, but that they needed to have another workshop with Mr Ronan and the PRUs. He added that if Mr Ronan could explain the Bill to them in detail, it might turn out that their grievances would be cleared up.

Mr Louis Snyman (Stadium Manager, Western Province Rugby) agreed that the role the SAPS provided was vital, but he was concerned that in the future a SAPS captain could essentially walk into a game and shut it down on a whim.

Mr G Mackenzie (COPE) stated that there was a common theme of practical impediments to compliance, including the notification of fixtures. He asked if they could not have stadium ratings for existing venues that could have a standing grading. Also what difference did the change from a 2.4 metre fence to a 3 metre fence make?

The Co-Chairperson (Ms L Chikunga, ANC) asked for clarity on point 3 on page two of the submission.

Mr M George (COPE) asked with regards to low risk events, how they planned to provide SAPS coverage, considering the number of low risk events that occurred.

Mr Ronan replied that SARU had a problem with the formalisation of existing practices. He added that it was not a matter of a SAPS captain walking in and closing a game on a whim, rather they were looking at the Venue Operational Command (VOC) commander, who is seated in the “nerve centre” of the event making an informed decision. He added that the VOC commander being a police official was in line with international best practices. Mr Ronan asked whether SARU wanted to be able to disregard the VOC commander’s decision. He stated that with regard to short notice events, there was a provision under Clause 5(3) that simply required them to notify the National Police Commissioner immediately.

Mr Ronan stated that under Clauses 5 and 6 there was a categorisation process and risk profiling criteria, but that with regard to fixture scheduling they did need them in advance, but could make the time period shorter. With regard to risk profiling criteria SARU had admitted to implementing the provisions of the draft Bill and that with regard to the issue of low risk games they would have five years to budget for the stipulated requirements. Under Clause 16(2), low risk events did not need to have a SAPS officer chairing the Event Planning Committee and that Clauses 16 and 17 indicated from what provisions low risk events were exempt. He stated that there were safeguards and that the Bill was not overreaching, as it did take issues into account. The three metre fence stipulation came from the provisions of the draft Bill, and it was not a provision of the Bill now. He added that it had originated from the FIFA stipulations for the 2010 Soccer World Cup and international best practice.

Mr J van der Walt (Director: Legal Support, SAPS) replied that provisions were made for short notice events. He added that it was important to remember that there was a provision for the National Police Commissioner to categorise an event, which the event organiser could then query and resubmit if not satisfied as the National Police Commissioner was required to provide adequate reasons behind his decision. Mr van der Walt added that SAPS authority was covered under Clause 16(3) and that it stated that the safety and security committee was to be comprised of the event organiser and safety officers. He added that the cancellation of an event involved consultation under Clause 22 and was not done on a whim, without sufficient reasoning.

Mr MacKenzie asked what the cost implication would be to SARU.  He stated that the Premier Soccer League had stated that they had had sufficient police personnel at the Ajax and Kaizer Chiefs match at Newlands Stadium on 15 August, yet an incident had still occurred. He wondered what good a sufficient police presence would do for smaller events, considering that the sufficient police presence at the aforementioned event had not stopped an incident of crowd vandalism from occurring.

Mr Ronan replied that it would be helpful if SARU provided them with the costs. With regard to the issue of sufficient SAPS presence, sometimes operational safety and security plans fell short of the outlined plan.

The Chairperson interjected that they were discussing regulations, which could be interrogated later and cautioned members and delegates to focus on the substance of the Bill.

Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) asked whether there was a focus on contractual liability in the Bill, as the SAPS VOC Commander had the right to shut down an event over all other members of the VOC. She asked who would be financially liable in this case.

Mr Ronan replied that there was a balancing between finances and safety and that careful reading of the legislation showed that the event organisers were taken into account. He added that shutting down an event was a case of a grave and serious risk being posed and that there was no reference to financial liability as it was a public safety Bill.

Ms Kohler-Barnard stated that she was impressed by the implicit trust in SAPS judgment that Mr Ronan showed. She asked that in the event that the SAPS officer in charge shut down an event in bad judgement, where was it dealt with in the Bill?

Mr van der Walt replied that under Clause 33, the SAPS officer was not liable due to their operating in good faith, however when it was blatantly obvious that they were not, then they could be held to account.

Mr Andre Homan (Project Manager, SARU) stated that in 2006 there was a meeting between the PRUs and himself to discuss all these issues and that rightfully or wrongfully there was an expectation on their part for feedback. To push this issue forward they had had a meeting with the PRUs to draw up a list of items, but realised that this would take extremely long and had subsequently requested in a letter to have another workshop with Mr Ronan to look at the issues. 

Mr Ronan replied that the current version of the Bill dealt with responsibility, risk profiling, establishment of annual schedules of events and integrated security and safety planning. He pointed out that in dealing with the Bill, regulations were still pending but he welcomed going over the Bill with any of the sporting codes.

Mr Lee said that it would be good for SARU to talk to the drafters, but that with regard to the anticipated costs, the Committee needed detailed representations.

The Chairperson encouraged interaction between SARU and Mr Ronan, but asked why fixture dates would be a problem. SARU knew when the Tri-Nations and other tournaments would be taking place well in advance of the time.

Mr Roos replied that he agreed with the Chairperson on the point of tournaments, but that lengthy advance notice of warm-up matches and other types of short-notice fixtures would not be possible. He added that there were certain restrictions that they were not clear on and on which they were seeking clarity.

The Chairperson replied that SARU’s request for a workshop would happen as soon as possible and that he appreciated their input. He added that SARU had done a lot of work in terms of safety and security procedures, which it seemed they did not want to formalise. They had been informally sticking to such procedures and asked why they did not formalise them.

Mr Roos replied that, in principle, SARU supported the Bill.

The Chairperson stated that in the media there was a report that the PSL rejected the Bill, which was untrue as they had accepted the Bill with some reservations. He urged SARU to watch the news. The Chairperson asked Mr Gideon Boshoff (Legal Advisor, Department of Sports & Recreation) to share the brief on the Bill that the Committee had requested the previous day.

Mr Boshoff replied that they had received feedback from the State Law Advisor. They had drafted a provision dealing with the 2010 FIFA Local Organising Committee’s (LOC) issue, making it possible for FIFA to apply to the Minister of Sports & Recreation for an exemption, which would then be conveyed to Cabinet. Mr Boshoff added that they had made provisions for the definitions to be amended and they now had a draft.

The Chairperson asked if there could be a provision that in the event of a government guarantee, that the event could be exempt from the Bill.

Mr Boshoff replied that there was an application, motivation and consideration process for exemptions. He added that the Chairperson’s suggestion that, where associated with a government guarantee, the event should be assumed to be exempt from the provisions of the Bill, was not consistent with other applications of the Bill. Mr Boshoff added that one needed to identify these events and an application would prove useful as opposed to an automatic exemption.

Mr van der Walt stated that the event that is exempted from the Bill must be assessed to determine which parts of the Bill do not apply.

Mr Lee raised the reference to the two 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Special Measures Acts.

The Chairperson asked whether these two acts were temporary or permanent.

Mr Boshoff replied that both acts were temporary and would expire after 2010.

Mr van der Walt replied that it could be said that these two acts were enacted to give effect to government guarantees.

The Chairperson replied that harmonisation was good and that they should take a ‘middle of the road’ approach with this Bill.

Accredited Solution for Events Stewarding (ACSES) submission
Mr Desmond Grootboom (Managing Director, ACSES) stated that ACSES’s focus was the training of stewards for events and that stewards not being security officers was the crux of the matter. His reading of the Bill agreed with this perception, but the Committee should make this clearer in the Bill. Mr Grootboom stated that stewards were responsible for safety and customer care, not security functions. If stewards were defined as security officers then they would need to be trained as such and be subject to security officer registration with the Private Security Industry Regulating Authority (PSIRA). Mr Grootboom clarified that this was fine, but that there should be other pathways open to individuals wishing to become solely stewards without any security functions.

He indicated that major events offered individuals a relatively easy way into the economy and that low level entry requirements allow as many people as possible to enter the event industry. Mr Grootboom felt that this accessibility needed to be retained. He stated that the task of a steward was to maintain a visible and professional presence, observing the crowd and calling the appropriate security or emergency professionals when required. Mr Grootboom reiterated that stewards did not provide emergency services. He added that if stewards were providing a security service then he understood the need for them to be registered as security officers, but that there needed to be clarity and clear delineation. Mr Grootboom stated that the issue touched on economic access to jobs. He acknowledged the need for stewards to be in possession of adequate training for their role and to be registered, but rather with the Department of Sports & Recreation than with PSIRA.

Discussion
The Co-chairperson (Ms L Chikunga, ANC) referred to point two of the the executive summary of the submission which gave the definition of a ‘steward’ under the Private Security Regulation Act (PSRA). She asked Mr Grootboom if he was suggesting that this needed to be amended to exclude stewards from that Act, as that Act clearly covered stewards.

Mr Lee said that the steward issue should be clarified and that the Committee needed to take into account what Mr Grootboom was saying.

Mr Grootboom replied that there was a debate over whether a steward fell under the definition provided in the PSRA and that he did not pick up a particular definition of the term ‘steward’ in that Act. In the PSRA there was an instrument called Board Notice 199, which defined stewards as security officers, which effectively meant that only registered security officers could be stewards subject to special training.

The Co-Chairperson stated that in that case PSRA did cover stewards.

Ms Kohler-Barnard said that they could not pass a section that contradicted another Bill. She added that Clause 3(4)(b) of the Bill dealt with stewards.

Ms D Schafer (DA) said that it seemed as if the issue was with the PSRA.

The Co-chairperson agreed that reference was made to PSRA in the Bill.

Mr Grootboom replied that if the Bill went through he would be happy, but would prefer it to be clearer on the term ‘steward’.

The Co-chairperson stated that there was a definition of a steward in the PSRA and that Mr Grootboom’s definition conflicted with it as stewards were clearly defined as security officers.

Mr Ronan said that the confusion was caused by the definition coming from the National Qualification Standard and not PSIRA’s constitution. He asserted that there was no conflict or contradiction. There had been a blurring of the line concerning the term ‘steward’, which was used by unscrupulous security companies to hire and employ individuals in security officer roles, whilst claiming they were stewards and not registering them with PSIRA or paying them security officer wages. In the desire to stop this, it appeared that his and Mr Grootboom’s wishes were similar.

The Chairperson stated that the steward concern was there, but that there was no contradiction.

The meeting was adjourned.

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