Safety at Sports and Recreational Events Bill: deliberation and finalisation

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture

15 March 2010
Chairperson: Ms M Makgate (ANC, North West)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee deliberated and finalised the Safety at Sports and Recreational Events Bill. The Legal Adviser of Sport and Recreation South Africa took the Members through the clauses of the Bill.

Members asked questions about the requirement that the organiser of an event was at least 21 years of age, that there was no obligation on the part of the authority to issue safety certificates, the attendance of the members at safety committee meetings, the adequacy of the capacity of security personnel, public liability insurance and the meaning of gross negligence.

The Bill was accepted by the Committee without amendments.

Meeting report

 Deliberations on the Safety at Sports and Recreational Events Bill
Mr M De Villiers (DA, Western Cape) proposed that the Committee dealt with the provision that a person organising an event had to be at least 21 years of age issue before proceeding with the rest of the Bill.

Mr W Faber (DA, Northern Cape) seconded the proposal.

The Chairperson explained that the usual procedure for finalising a Bill was for the Committee to systematically go through the Bill clause by clause.

Advocate Anthea Gordan, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, concurred. If any issues arose during the process, the matter could be discussed by the Committee.

Ms M Boroto (ANC, Mpumalanga) suggested that the issue of the age requirement was discussed when the Committee came to the clause.

Mr Gideon Boshoff, Legal Advisor, Sport and Recreation South Africa (SRSA), took the Committee through the clauses of the Bill.

Chapter 1
Clause 3 - Exemptions
Mr De Villiers asked if application for exemption had to be made to the Minister of Police or the National Commissioner of Police.

Mr J A Van Der Walt, Director: Legal, South African Police Services (SAPS) said that the intention of the provision was for the stadium owner or the organiser of the event to apply to the Minister of Police in a prescribed manner as set out in the Regulations.  The Minister could delegate the authority to the National Commissioner.

Clause 4 - Responsibility for safety and security at events
Mr De Villiers pointed out that the clause required that the organiser of an event had to at least be 21 years of age. He said that many event organisers in the community were below the age of 21. The Bill required that a person under the age of 21 had to apply to the Minister for permission to organise an event. The concern was that the application process might cause delays for the event. He asked if the age requirement was fair. He was not comfortable with the provision but would abide by the decision of the Committee.

Mr T Mashamaite (ANC, Limpopo) supported the age requirement because the organisers needed to have the capacity and experience to host large events. A younger person might not have the necessary experience, capacity or resources to host such events.

Ms M Boroto (ANC, Mpumalanga) agreed that the age requirement was necessary. She pointed out that the Bill made provision for an exemption to the requirement.

Mr W Faber (DA, Northern Cape) pointed out that an individual who was younger than age 21 had the constitutional right to host events. He queried why an individual who had the required attributes and qualifications should be disqualified on the basis of age. He felt that some persons as young as 18 possessed the capabilities and competencies that were required to organise events.

Mr Patrick Roman, Consultant, SRSA, said that the Bill made a distinction between high-risk and low-risk events. In terms of the Constitution, the age of majority was 18 years. If it was in the public interest, the age requirement could be attenuated. In essence, the Bill was public safety legislation. Allowing 18 year-olds to organise large events could have far-reaching consequences. However this did not detract from the fact that there were 18 year-olds who were competent. It was impractical to legislate for special cases hence provision had been made for exemptions. The application for exemptions could be made at local police stations.

Adv Gordon noted that there was a misconception that constitutional rights were absolute. It was not the case. Even the Bill of Rights in the Constitution had a limitations clause. The bottom line was public safety hence the age requirement of 21 years. If the discrimination on the basis of age was fair it would pass the test of constitutionality.

Mr De Villiers still felt that if an 18 year old was competent he or she should be allowed to organise an event. Insurance was also required when hosting an event. He asked what the problem was if 18 was the age of majority.

The Chairperson said that one had to be reasonable because the Bill would be generally applicable. Provision was made for applications for exemption to be made to the SAPS.

Mr Roman pointed out that an 18 year old could organise an event for 2000 people or less. The 21 year age requirement was only applicable for events for more than 2000 people.

Mr De Villiers said that he was not comfortable with the 21 year of age requirement but would not oppose its inclusion in the Bill.

Clause 6 - Risk categorisation of events
Mr Faber said that a schedule had to be forwarded to the National Commissioner at least six months before the start of a calendar year for a specific sport. There were different calendar years for different sports.

Mr Sisa Makabeni, State Law Advisor, confirmed Mr Faber’s observation concerning the different calendar years of the different types of sport.

Mr Van Der Walt pointed out that the calendar years for the various types of sports were generally well known.

The Chairperson said that the provision was inserted to ensure that there was sufficient time for the process to be completed.

Clause 7- Safety certificates
Mr De Villiers asked why the word “may” was used instead of “must”.

The Chairperson said that when application was made for safety certificates there were no guarantees that the certificates would be issued. If “must” had been used in the Clause and the requirements were not fulfilled then the local authority would be obliged to grant safety certificates.

Mr Makabeni said that “may” gave the local authority discretion. If “must” was used it would place an obligation on the local authority and there would be no discretion.

Mr Van Der Walt said that safety certificates for venues were issued to the venue owner. Venue owners were responsible for applying for safety certificates.

Mr Boshoff agreed that if “must” was used and an application was considered to be weak, the local authority would have no choice but to grant the safety certificate.

Clause 11- High-risk event safety certificate
Mr De Villiers asked where the criteria for high-risk and low-risk events were specified.

Mr Roman said that the issue was the assessment of risk rather than the nature of the event. Sub-clause 7 of clause 6 set out the risk assessment criteria. The event organiser would submit a risk assessment. If the National Commissioner of SAPS was not in agreement with the assessment he had the authority to re-classify the event from a low-risk event to a high-risk event.

Mr De Villiers asked if the only criteria to be taken into consideration by the National Commissioner were listed in the Bill and that no other criteria could be taken into consideration. Such provision would avoid the possibility that the granting of permission was subject to any personal likes and dislikes of individuals.

The Chairperson pointed out that regulations would be issued in terms of the Bill.

Mr Roman confirmed that there would be more detail in the regulations. The venue owner would submit a risk assessment with the application but the National Commissioner reserved the right to consult with other persons or to use other information in order to make a determination on the level of risk of an event. 

Ms B Mncube (ANC, Gauteng) shared Mr De Villiers’ concern and said that there were individuals that did not wish certain persons to have access to certain facilities. She had brought the matter to the Committee’s attention the previous week.

Mr Roman conceded that the concerns raised by the Members were valid. The Bill made provision for an appeal to be lodged against a decision that the applicant felt was unjustified.

Adv Gordon pointed out that the decision was made at a high level, i.e. the National Commissioner and not any policeman.

Clause 16 - Functions of the event safety and security planning committee
Mr Faber asked who would be responsible for disaster management - the police or the disaster management department of the local authority.

Mr Roman advised that the VOC Commander had the overall authority. The provisions in the Bill merely formalised the arrangements that were already applicable at medium-sized and large events. In the event of a fire, the authority was handed over to the fire chief.

Mr Van Der Walt noted that Clause 16 (1) (b) set out the various role players.

Mr De Villiers asked what happened if members of the planning committee did not attend a meeting.

The Chairperson responded that the Clause was about the composition of the planning committee and not about its functions.

Mr Van Der Walt pointed out that the Clause did not specifically state that members had to attend meetings. In order to ensure attendance there would have to be provision for sanctioning. The National Commissioner was responsible for safety and security. Planning would continue even if certain role players were not present at a meeting.

Mr De Villiers said that it would appear that the planning committee was not compelled to include representatives of all the role players.

Mr Boshoff advised that Clause 15(4) should be referred to for more information.

Clause 24 - Deployment of state security forces
Mr Mashamaite asked what measures were in place where the National Commissioner had not complied with the Act, for example when competent security personnel had not been deployed at an event.

Mr Van Der Walt explained that SAPS had a crowd management policy in place. The members of SAPS deployed to such events would have the required experience.

Mr Roman agreed that the Member had raised a valid concern. The disaster at Ellis Park had occurred because SAPS had not deployed sufficient numbers of personnel to control the crowd. Senior members of SAPS were expected to make decisions that would ensure the safety of all persons at events.

Ms Mncube pointed out that the safety personnel at South African stadiums had been criticised for watching the match rather than carrying out their duties.

Mr Roman said that the security personnel could be either members of SAPS or private security companies. The regulations would set out the requirements and the training that needed to be completed.

Clause 25 - Public liability insurance
Ms Boroto asked whether hooligans causing trouble outside stadiums would also be covered by the insurance.

The Chairperson asked whether the insurance would assist families affected by violence at stadiums, either because of the injury or the death of a loved one. She referred to an incident at a stadium in Orkney as an example.

Mr Roman said that the insurance claim at Ellis Park had been repudiated by the insurance company. The Government had to cover the costs of the damage. He said that there was no public liability insurance in place at the stadium in Orkney.

Mr Van Der Walt said that Clause 25(1) made it compulsory for public liability insurance to be in place for an event that would be attended by more than 2000 people.

Clause 30 - Removal of member and dissolution of Appeal Board
Mr Faber referred to Clause 30(2) and asked why the National Assembly was mentioned in the clause but not the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

The Chairperson explained that the Bill was a Section 75 Bill.

Mr Makabeni explained that all Section 75 legislation was overseen by the National Assembly.

Clause 47- Limitation of liability
Mr De Villiers asked why persons were only held liable for gross negligence and not for any negligence.

Mr Roman replied that the provision was in line with the history of case law on liability. If there was some element of negligence but the person had acted in good faith then that person could be exempted from liability. The provision was in line with the position taken by all organisations on the issue of limitation of liability.

Ms Boroto asked for an example to illustrate the difference.

Mr Van Der Walt explained that if the National Commissioner appointed an officer with no experience to oversee the FIFA World Cup, the National Commissioner would be guilty of gross negligence if a tragedy occurred as there was an element of recklessness in the appointment.

The Committee accepted the Bill without any amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.


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