Second-Hand Goods Bill [B2-2008]: Public hearings

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04 March 2008
Chairperson: Ms M Sotyu (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee was briefed by the Copper Development Association and Business Against Crime on the Second-Hand Goods Bill. It was agreed that the Bill was very significant as the second hand goods industry was fundamental to the economy. However, the Copper Development Association suggested that certain provisions in the Bill should be made clearer while others should be reviewed to ensure effective implementation. Furthermore, it was agreed that all other avenues for circumventing the provisions of the Bill should be plugged. It suggested that cobalt should be included in the Bill as a controlled metal. It was agreed that there needed to be focus on strengthening the implementation of effectiveness of the Bill. Members raised questions of clarity around the submissions in respect of dealers and recyclers, and asked whether it was necessary to make other provisions in respect of the change of identity of copper cable. Members also commented that the Bill was silent on environment issues, that no definitions were given for “a person appointed”, and suggested that police should be obliged to inspect registers regularly and that anyone receiving stolen cable should have an obligation to report.

Business Against Crime noted that it fully supported the Bill and did not propose changes. However, it wished to stress that the most effective way to reduce crime lay in regulation of the market, particularly in the recycling sectors, and that the relationship between the police service and the industry must be strengthened. Members asked for clarity on the distinction between legal and illegal dealers, commented that self-regulation was not taking place, and that the issue of second hand clothing must be addressed.

Meeting report

Second-Hand Goods Bill Public Hearings
Copper Development Association Submission

Mr John Cross, Chairman,  Copper Development Association Africa (CDAA) outlined the Association’s submissions on the Bill. He stated that the copper industry in South Africa was made up of both the primary sector, and the secondary copper industry was to be regulated by the Second-Hand Goods Bill. He noted that the secondary copper industry was very significant to the South African economy, as it was worth R3 billion. The industry was cash based and there had recently been an increase in the price of copper. There had been exports of secondary copper in 2007 of 80 000 tonnes. He added that CDAA was an industry trade association made up of companies representing the major regional copper producers and consumers.

Mr Cross stated that the CDAA supported the Bill but noted that the Association’s comments were aimed at improving its implementation.

In respect of clause 2(1)(b), which exempted certain dealers from the provisions of the legislation, the CDAA strongly noted that such exemption could result in complications in enforcement. Requests by the South African Police Service (SAPS) for entry and inspection of registration certificates could be refused on the grounds that a dealer was a member of an accredited organisation.

In respect of Clause 17(b), which required accredited dealers associations to establish and maintain minimum legal and ethical standards, the CDAA suggested that the associations should in addition be empowered to enforce these standards. The variation of standards envisaged by 17(b) should not permit dealers to operate with lower ethical standards. This clause did not cater for the accredited association to inspect the registers or goods of its members, and therefore dealer members should not be exempt from this provision in terms of clause 2(1)(b).

In respect of clause 21, which dealt with the member registers, the CDAA suggested that a clause be inserted which would require every accredited association to have the register available for inspection by a police official or person appointed in terms of section 32 of the Act.

In respect of clause 26, which dealt with the obligation on dealers to register as recyclers, the CDAA felt that there should be a clearer definition of who was a dealer, and who was a recycle. It was queried whether dealers not also registered as recyclers should not be prohibited from changing the form or altering the appearance of the scrap metal. It was noted that the Bill was also silent on whether a dealer should be prohibited from being in possession of burnt copper cable, since the simplest method of destroying the identity of the cable was by burning it.

Mr Cross suggested that cobalt, which was currently a very lucrative metal, be included in the Bill as a controlled metal. He also suggested that the regulations regarding the format of the registers be such that clause 24(1)(d) could not be circumvented by backdating an entry. In conclusion, he stated that the three legs of clause 2 were fundamental to the implementation of the legislation.

Ms A Van Wyk (ANC) stated that the submissions of the CDAA were very valuable and asked if they had any specific suggestions on the dealer and recycler issue.

Mr Cross responded that CDAA contended that a dealer should not be able to change the identity of the metal. The regulations should state clearly what a dealer could or could not do. He also stated that the chain of second-hand goods could not be closed down, but must be well regulated because of the relevance to the industry. In the scrap metals market there were a lot of dealers. He suggested that there should be only a select few recyclers to aid regulation.

Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) asked whether there was any other way in which the identity of copper cable could be destroyed apart from burning. She would like to ensure that all other loopholes for criminals would be effectively plugged.

Mr Cross responded that other methods of destroying the identity of copper cable were smelting or granulating. The burning of copper cable was singled out because very easy and cheap to do.

Mr F Maserumule (ANC) noted that the Bill was silent on environmental issues. He wondered why, seeing that the activities to be regulated by the Bill had a lot of implications on the environment.

Ms A van Wyk (ANC) asked why certain categories of individuals were exempted from the Bill. She noted that nowhere in the Bill was the term ‘a person appointed’ defined, and suggested that the Bill should include an obligation on the police to inspect the registers regularly. Also, an obligation should be put on persons selling or receiving stolen copper cables to report such theft.

Mr K Meshoe (ACDP) stated that definite proposals should be made on how to curb the losses arising from theft of copper from companies like Telkom.

Mr Cross stated that all in the industry had agreed that  stolen goods would not be used in the industry, and that closing the loopholes from the dealer point of view was only a start. It would be difficult to place obligations on sellers and receivers of these stolen goods. This was why the Association had suggested that a dealer should not be able to change the identity of the copper.

Business Against Crime (BAC) Presentation on Second-Hand Goods Bill
Ms Lorinda Nel, Programme Manager, Business Against Crime South Africa noted that BAC acted as a conduit between business and the police service. She stated that there was a large demand for second hand goods in South Africa, and the most effective way of reducing crime lay in the removal of the market for stolen goods. She hinted that the market for stolen non-ferrous metals remained primarily within the local recycling industry, and the estimated annual turnover of the industry was in excess of R15 billion. She further stated that there was a need for the relationship between the police service and the industry to be strengthened. She concluded by stating that BAC supported the Bill and did not propose changes to the present format.

Ms Kohler-Barnard (asked who a legal dealer was and who an illegal dealer was. She noted that self-regulation was obviously not taking place within the industry.

Ms Nel stated that a legal dealer was one who had a certificate with regard to second-hand goods. An illegal dealer was one who was not registered. She agreed that self-regulation was not taking place because the relevant relationships had not been put in place. That was why BAC was fully supportive of the Bill.

Ms J Sosibo (ANC) stated that nothing was mentioned about clothes in the presentation.

Ms Nel said that perhaps the police were better placed to answer the question on stolen clothes. 

The Chairperson responded that at this stage the SAPS were noting submissions only. 

The meeting was adjourned.


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