Second Hand Goods Bill: deliberation and adoption

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

The proposed amendments were presented to the Committee. They deliberated on the clauses that had been flagged. Once these were finalised, the Committee adopted the Bill as amended.

Meeting report

Mr J Van der Walt Director Legal Services South African Police Services (SAPS) presented the amendments to the Committee with Senior State Law Adviser Ms Ntombi Mnyikiso assisting him. 

Mr Van der Walt noted that the Committee was acquainted with most of the proposed amendments as they had been discussed previously. He proceeded to take the Committee through the amendments. Members engaged on amended clauses that were perceived to be problematic or where clarification was needed. 

Clause 4
Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) referred to Clause 4(2) and asked whether motorcar dealers who often parked their vehicles on additional car lots other than their primary place of business should have those lots registered as their business premises as well.

Mr Van der Walt replied that each additional lot would have to be registered and licensed as a place of business. He felt that it was not an additional burden on motorcar dealers. The idea of registering every premises was to prevent stolen items from being stored at the premises. However there were exemptions for dealers who belonged to associations.

Ms Kohler-Barnard nevertheless felt that the provision would be placing a burden on dealers who parked their vehicles on additional lots due to space shortages.

Mr K Khumalo (ANC) said that it was correct that each place where goods were stored needed to be registered. The Chair agreed. Rev Meshoe (ACDP) shared the same sentiments.

Mr Van der Walt said that the motor industry could not take only its own circumstances into consideration. The problem faced by SAPS was finding vehicles when they were stolen, stripped and parts sold off. The new legislation did not place an additional burden on the industry. It only required that all places of business be registered.

The Chair said that the requirements set out in the Bill did not only apply to motorcar dealers. It applied to all dealers of second hand goods.

Clause 22
Rev Meshoe referred to Clause 22 dealing with records kept by dealers and said that it had been suggested that lower priced items should be exempt from this requirement. For example, it did not make sense for a dealer to record a sale for an item with a price below R10.

Mr Van der Walt said that if the Committee wished to set a threshold, he was open to suggestions.

Ms Sotyu suggested that a threshold of R100 was perhaps reasonable. Any item sold priced at R100 or lower need not be recorded by the dealer.

Mr Van der Walt agreed to include a provision that dealers need not record the sale of goods sold under the value of R100. It would be placed under the definition of second hand goods in the bill. 

Rev Meshoe and Ms Kohler-Barnard asked why Clause 22(8) required dealers to make printouts of its records on a daily basis when records were kept electronically.

The Chair agreed that it was unnecessary to make printouts on a daily basis. Only where printouts were needed were they to be made.

Mr Van der Walt agreed to amend the clause if the Committee so wished.

The Chair suggested that the necessary amendment be made.

Mr Van der Walt proposed that perhaps the amendment could include that SAPS obtain assistance from the dealer and that electronic registers should be of a certain format.

Mr K Khumalo (ANC) asked what the implications would be if dealers did not keep a daily register of transactions.

Mr Van der Walt said that the reason behind the requirement of daily printouts was that computer records could be altered. He stated that if no register were kept it would be regarded as an offence in terms of the Bill.

Ms Sotyu said that the aim of the Bill was to curb dealing in stolen goods and SAPS should be empowered to do the jobs. However she felt that a daily printout of records was not necessary.

The Committee agreed.

The Chair asked Mr Van der Walt to change the provision.

Clause 23
Ms Kohler-Barnard referred to the Clause 23 provision that a dealer on reasonable grounds should suspect that certain information furnished was false. She asked what was the test for ‘on reasonable grounds’. How were dealers to be held culpable for buying stolen goods?

Mr Van der Walt replied that the courts would accept reasonable grounds as an objective test. There was case law detailing many tests for reasonable grounds.

The Committee agreed that the provision should remain as amended.

Clause 24
Ms Kohler-Barnard felt that the restriction in Clause 24(1)(d) preventing dealers to change the forms of goods acquired for a period of seven days was onerous for smaller items of lesser value.

Mr Van der Walt responded that the previously agreed exclusion of goods of R100 or less would mean that the restriction did not apply to these types of goods.

Rev Meshoe asked whether the restriction of change of form included tampering or turning down odometer readings on motor vehicles.

Mr Van der Walt replied that odometer reading was covered in Clause 25(2)(b). He explained that when a vehicle was bought in, the odometer reading would be recorded in the register. When the vehicle was sold, the odometer reading was also recorded in the register. The latter reading should therefore not be less than the former reading.

Clause 26
Ms Kohler-Barnard asked why the stripping of copper by way of burning only, was banned.

Mr Van der Walt responded that burning was the most commonly used unsophisticated method of stripping copper wire. The other methods required sophistication and machinery. He noted that stripping by other methods was covered in Clause 26(4).

Clauses 29 and 30
The Chair said that she was not comfortable with a comprehensive inspection by SAPS of a dealer’s premises only once a year. She was concerned that dealers would take advantage of the fact that SAPS would only be doing inspections once a year.

Ms J Sosibo (ANC) agreed that once a year was not good enough and proposed inspections every six months.

Ms Kohler-Barnard was concerned whether SAPS would have the capacity to do the said inspections.

Mr Van der Walt explained that this only referred to a comprehensive once-a-year inspection. It did not include walk-in inspections that would be done routinely.

Mr Khumalo was also concerned that a once-a-year comprehensive inspection was not good enough.

Mr M Moatshe (ANC) said that there should not be timeframes attached to searching dealers’ premises.

Ms Kohler-Barnard said that the Committee should be wary of placing onerous requirements on legitimate dealers. She did emphasize that there was a need to clamp down on unscrupulous dealers.

Mr S Mahote (ANC) asked when a comprehensive inspection was done and discrepancies were found, what action would be taken - given that the offence could have taken place a while back.
Many Committee members felt that six-monthly inspections would be better.

The Chair noted that it would seem that SAPS would be able to visit dealers at any time to do inspections and would on an annual basis do a comprehensive inspection and compile a report.

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked if the inspections would be done without a warrant.

Mr Van de Walt said that a distinction needed to be made between routine inspections in Clause 29 and search and seizure operations in terms of a warrant in Clause 30. The issuing of a warrant required a reasonable suspicion. He said that Clause 30 dealt with normal procedural aspects.

Mr Van der Walt reiterated that once a year a comprehensive inspection would be done but it did not detract from routine inspections that would be done on a routine basis.

The Chair said that it made sense when a distinction was made between the two types of inspections.

The Committee was satisfied with the explanation.

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked what number of visits by SAPS to the same dealer would be regarded as harassment. What if 15 different SAPS members visited the same dealer during a one year period?

Mr Khumalo said that a limit on the number of visits by SAPS members could not be set. He conceded that there were legitimate as well as crooked dealers.

Rev Meshoe did not think that various SAPS members would harass a specific dealer since records of inspections would be kept.

The Committee was satisfied.

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked why were dealers required to keep their records for five years in terms of the Bill. She asked whether it would not be kept in any event for tax purposes.

Mr Van der Walt explained that the Bill had set the requirement in order to include those dealers who were not registered for tax. They would not have kept their records for tax purposes hence the requirement in the Bill.

Rev Meshoe asked if a member of an association contravened the Act, would the association discipline the member?

Mr Van der Walt replied that the association would discipline the member. If the association should have taken action and it did not, that association could lose its accreditation.

In reply to Ms Kohler-Barnard asking why only imprisonment and not fines was detailed in Schedule 4 of the Bill, Mr Van der Walt said that fines were set out in the Apportionment of Fines Act.

Voting on Bill
The Chair proceeded to take the Committee through the Bill as amended clause by clause.

The Committee adopted the Bill as amended.

The meeting was adjourned.


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