Briefing by the Secretariat for Safety and Security and the SAPS on the Explosives Bill

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18 September 2002
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

18 September 2002

Chairperson: Mr M George (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Explosives Bill [B43-2002]

The Committee briefly ran through the provisions of the Bill. The Department assured the Committee that they would apply their minds to the problems highlighted. Problematic areas highlighted related to, inter alia, the composition of the Appeals Board, responsibilities of owners of explosives, and the powers of the Minister with respect to drawing up the regulations to the Act.

The Secretariat for Safety and Security was represented by Mr A Soman and Adv Daniel Maloka. Adv K Strydom and Mr G Hoon: State Law Advisors, were also present.

The meeting was a follow-up to the previous briefing on the Explosives Bill. Mr Soman (Secretariat) confirmed that a process had been put into place with regard to consultation and that the names of all parties consulted were available.

Mr P Swart (DP) asked when South Africa signed the Convention and what the date was of the Convention.

Adv Strydom (SAPS) stated that South Africa had ratified the Convention in January 2000.

The Bill was read out in its entirety, allowing Members to comment critically on individual provisions.

Adv Strydom (SAPS), highlighted notable changes made to this draft of the Bill including the addition of the word "broker" in the Definitions clause. The definition of "explosives" was expanded; instead of "explosive factories", this was changed to "explosives manufacturing sites" as explosives were manufactured outside of factories as well. The definition of "fireworks" was problematic, but she conceded that this was the best the Department could do. The word "classes" (still with the definition of fireworks), referred to United Nations classifications. A definition of "suitable person" was added. She confirmed that the Chamber of Mines has a problem with this definition in respect of its specificity to natural persons only. To clarify what is meant by "unauthorised explosives", the wording allows for explosive that have not as yet been classified as explosives.

A question was raised about whether the distinction between "crackers" and " fireworks" was highlighted in the Bill. Adv Strydom confirmed that fireworks were dealt with in Clause 33 (o) in Chapter Nine.

Adv Strydom highlighted the following clauses:

Clause 2 (1) - Application of the Act
This insertion allowed for instances where UN Peacekeeping Forces may be involved in operations in South Africa.

Mr J Schippers (NNP) asked who determines the number of explosives inspectors.

Adv Strydom explained that this depended on the demand.

Clause 6 - Entry and search of premises
This clause, Adv Strydom stated, was drafted in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Act with regard to search and seizure.

Clause 7 - Forfeiture
This was the same as in the Criminal Procedure Act, but with the addition of (a), (b), and (c).

The provisions of Clause 8, relating to the destruction of explosives, raised concern amongst Members. The SAPS stated this wording in Clause 8(2) was added because it was very costly to destroy explosives and the owner was responsible for costs incurred.

Clause 9 (1) - Prints and samples for investigating purposes
This provision was compatible with Section 37 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

Chapter 3 was drafted with regard to control and security mechanisms.

Mr M Booi (ANC) questioned why was power given to an "inspector" and the Chief Inspector.
The Secretariat responded that this was based on the fact that the widespread use of explosives would impede the functions of the Department.

Clause 11 - Prohibition of transportation of explosives under certain conditions
Adv Strydom confirmed that this section was taken from Section 16 of the Riotous Assembly Act. This would only apply in emergency situations.

Clause 16 - Possession of imitation explosives
This provision was added in the event of, inter alia, bomb threats, or a hold-up.

Clause 22 - Endangering life or property
These provisions deal with terrorist bombings and a bomb hoax.

Clause 23 - Presumption of possession of explosives under certain circumstances
Ms A van Wyk questioned the use of age sixteen when considering the Child Justice Bill.

Adv Strydom responded that at the time of drafting the Explosives Bill the Child Justice Bill was still being drafted.

Clause 28 (3) (b) - Offences
This was added with regard to bomb recipes available on the Internet and problems arising from this for the SAPS.

Clause 29 - Penalties
Mr Swart questioned whether any thought was given to maximum fines.

In response Adv Strydom added that the question of fines is a policy issue. It was not necessary for the Act to specify the quantum.

Clause 32 - Appeals
The Chairperson asked what happened during the period when an appeal was lodged and when it was heard.

Adv Strydom agreed that Clause 32 was problematic. However, he added that a person also has recourse to civil remedies. The Chairperson stated there was a need to include more tough measures.

Ms van Wyk expressed concern about the composition of the Appeals Board as it was not mentioned anywhere else in the Bill.

Mr Soman stated that this was a lacuna and required some redress.

Clause 33 - Regulations
The Chairperson expressed circumspection over the powers of the Minster in making regulations. He added that the Bill should be wary of not allowing the Minister to overhaul the Act via the regulations. Mr Swart also expressed concerns that too many issues were left to the regulations to decide on and also the wide powers permitted to the Minister.
There was no response from the Department to these comments.

The meeting was adjourned.


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