SAP Response to TEC on Recommendations on Violence
South African Police
Private Bag X94
Telegraphic address KOMPOL
Reference 31/1/5 (K)
Enquiries Lt-Col MCH Sonnekus
Dr T Eloff
Head of Administration
Multi-Party Negotiating Process
PO Box 307
Dear Dr Eloff
RECOMMENDATIONS BY THE COMMISSION OF INQUIRY REGARDING THE PREVENTION OF PUBLIC VIOLENCE AND INTIMIDATION
With further reference to your letter dated 10 August 1993 and the Annexures thereto, I wish to inform you that the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry Regarding the Prevention of Public Violence and Intimidation (hereinafter referred to as the Commission) continue to receive attention.
The Commissions s recommendation that penalties for the unauthorised carrying and displaying of dangerous weapons at public demonstrations should be substantially increased has been reflected in the Dangerous Weapons Amendment Act, 1993 (Act No. 156 of 1993).
Section 2 of the Dangerous Weapons Act, 1968 (Act No. 71 of 1968), provides that any person who is in possession of any dangerous weapon, or of any object which so resembles a firearm that, under circumstances such as those under which such person is in possession thereof, it is likely to be mistaken for a real firearm, shall be guilty of an offence, unless he is able to prove that he at no time had any intention of using such weapon or object for any unlawful purpose, and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding R4 000 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding twelve months or to both such fine and imprisonment.
Section 2 of the Dangerous Weapons Amendment Act, 1993, amends section 2 of the existing Act by deleting the reference to a fine of R4 000 and doubles the period of imprisonment from twelve months to two years. By deleting any reference to a fine, this penalty clause is now subject to the provisions of the Adjustment of Fines Act, 1991 (Act No. 101 of 1991). Section 1 of the Adjustment of Fines Act, 1991, provides that any person on conviction of an offence may be sentenced to pay a fine the maximum amount of which is not prescribed or, in the alternative, to undergo a prescribed maximum period of imprisonment, and if there is no indication to the contrary, the amount of the maximum fine which may be imposed shall be an amount which in relation to the said period of imprisonment is the same ratio as the ratio between the amount of the fine which the Minister of Justice may from time to time determine. The current ratio is R20 000 for ~very year's imprisonment. The advantage of this system is twofold in that it allows the fine to keep pace with inflation and it is not necessary to amend the Act in order to do so.
The same applies to the penalty clause in section 3 of the Dangerous Weapons Act, 1968. In this section provision was made for a fine not exceeding R6 000,00 or imprisonment not exceeding 18 months. This has now been amended to read a fine (amount not stated) or imprisonment not exceeding three years. Bearing in mind the explanation in the above paragraph, this means a fine of up to R60 000,00 or three years imprisonment may upon conviction be imposed.
Your attention is furthermore focused on an amendment to the Act made by the insertion of the definition of the word "gathering". A gathering is defined so as to include any assembly, concourse or procession of any number of persons. This amendment was necessitated in order to create legal certainty as a question had arisen as to whether a gathering included a procession.
It must be noted that the Dangerous Weapons Amendment Act, 1993, is not yet in operation. It is envisaged that the Act will be put into operation by a proclamation issued by the State President in the near future.
Once put into operation the Dangerous Weapons Amendment Act, 1993, will necessitate the repeal of Government Notice No. 719 published in Government Gazette No. 13801 of 28 February 1992 and its substitution with a new prohibition. The Legal Centre of the Department of Justice has scrutinised the existing notice and has identified certain problem areas which will be dealt with in a new notice.
The wearing of uniforms especially those closely resembling those worn by the South African Police at public gatherings is a matter that has also received attention. Your attention is drawn to clause 8(8) of the Regulation of Gatherings Bill, 1993, which reads as follows
"(8). No person shall at any gathering wear any form of apparel that resembles any of the uniforms worn by members of the security forces, including the Police and the South African Defence Force.
The wearing of disguises, balaclavas or other facial coverings at public gatherings or meetings is also dealt by the Regulation of Gatherings Bill, 1993. Clause 8(7) provides that no person shall at any gathering wear a disguise or mask or any other apparel or item which obscures his facial features and prevents his identification. In terms of clause 12(1)(i) provision is made for a conviction for the contravention of the above prohibition for a fine (amount not stated, thus currently determined at R20 000,00) or one year imprisonment.
Finally, there is continuous ongoing weekly discussions between members of the Legal Services of the South African Police and Advocate D J Rossouw Vice Chairman of the Commission. Advocate Rossouw has also held discussions with the Minister of Law and Order and had discussed the matter at the Working Committee for Security and Security Related Affairs. Follow-up discussions take place on a continuous basis.
Please rest assured that recommendations made by the Commission are treated seriously and where the implementation of such recommendations will result in more effective policing no effort is spared in implementing the recommendations.
J V Van Der Merwe
SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE