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Views on Social Media RE: The Draft unlawful entry on Premises Bill

24 August 2022

The Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services has noted with concern a recent TikTok video which purports to provide an explanation on certain provisions of the new draft Unlawful Entry on Premises Bill (“the Bill”) which has been published on the Department’s website for public input and comment.

The Department wishes to caution the public that not all advice or opinions expressed on TikTok or any other social media platforms are necessarily true and/or correct.

We are pleased to note that one specific video has since been removed from TikTok.

The current Trespassing Act dates back to 1959 – it is an outdated piece of colonial legislation and is not fit for purpose. It was passed even before South African was a Republic, when South Africa was still a Union. It only has 4 sections, and it is limited to cases of trespassing on land and buildings only.

The new proposed Bill extends the remedies to combat trespassing beyond just land and buildings by providing a much wider definition of “premises” and includes, amongst others, a ship or vessel, train, railway carriage, vehicle or aircraft, a trailer, caravan, motorhome or a portable structure designed or used as a residence. The proposed Bill thus gives the owner or lawful occupier more protection than they had before.

The draft Bill makes it clear that a person who enters a premises without permission or a lawful reason is guilty of an offence. Wanting to eat someone’s food or steal someone’s property is clearly not a lawful reason.

If the intruder does not leave the premises, the SAPS must assist to remove the person. If a person is found guilty of an offence in terms of the Bill, they can face a fine and/or imprisonment for a period of up to two years.

Crimes under the common law and other statutes – for example theft, housebreaking and robbery – remain the same offences as they always were. The Bill does not change those offences or make it easier for persons to commit crimes. Furthermore, the law dealing with matters like self-defence remains as it always was.

It is most concerning that vitriolic, racist and expletive-ridden comments and insults have now been directed at public servants who are seized with this very critical work of drafting legislation and advancing our constitutional principles in all spheres of society.

All persons are, no doubt, entitled to their views and to freedom of expression, however threats, misinformation, fake news, hyperbolic utterances and insults serve no purpose in a constitutional democracy, nor does it assist with the legislative process.

The draft Bill was published by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development for initial comments. Once the deadline for the receipt of the comments has passed, all comments will be considered and evaluated and the draft Bill will be redrafted, taking these inputs into account. Only then will the Bill be sent to Cabinet for approval for introduction into Parliament. Once in Parliament, the public will have further opportunities to make input on the Bill as it passes through the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces.

We encourage members of the public to participate in the legislative process, but to do so responsibly and based on facts so as to improve the Bill.

Watch Minister Lamola debunk the Myth here: https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMNW6w9Uw/

Issued by the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services

Enquiries: Chrispin Phiri
Spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services
Cell: 081 781 2261