IRR warns of serious deficiencies in Unlawful Entering on Premises Bill

20 September 2022 - The grave risks associated with the mounting threat of land invasions means that serious deficiencies in the Unlawful Entering on Premises Bill of 2022 need urgent attention if the law is to properly serve the public interest.

The grave risks associated with the mounting threat of land invasions means that serious deficiencies in the Unlawful Entering on Premises Bill of 2022 need urgent attention if the law is to properly serve the public interest.

This is the thrust of a submission by the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) to the Department of Justice and Correctional Services.

No Socio-Economic Impact Assessment System (SEIA) assessment of the Bill has been carried out. Nor has a final SEIA report been appended to the Bill to help inform the public and empower it to ‘know about’ the issues raised by the Bill so they can have a reasonable opportunity to influence the decisions to be made on it.

A proper SEIAS assessment would have helped the public to understand the risks the Bill is attempting to counter and make more informed comments on it. In the absence of interim and final SEIA reports, the time allowed for public consultation on the Bill has been inadequate – and far too short to pass constitutional muster.

The Bill’s insistence that only a specially authorised or designated member (as set out in sub-clauses 8(1)(a) and (b)) may respond to a call for help against intruders is, as the IRR submission puts it, “absurd”.

Most police officers, not being the “authorised” or “designated” member, will be barred by the Bill from responding to calls about intrusions, even when the property defenders have been overtly threatened. Most police officers will have to turn a deaf ear to urgent calls for their assistance under the Bill. Imagine calling 10111 and reporting an ongoing invasion only to be told to wait to be put through to the specially “authorised member” – if one is available – before you cry for help is heeded.

The Bill offers a welcome instruction that intruders who have already erected dwellings that they are occupying must be arrested. This would overturn the status quo where criminals are effectively kept in place on illegally occupied land. However, the welcome instruction to arrest land invaders is drastically undermined by the draft law’s other provisions.

In Sections 3(4) and 9(c) the Bill states a legitimate defence against the charge of trespassing is that the intruder “reasonably believed that they had title to or an interest in the premises that entitled them to enter the premises”. This is a vague standard, which –especially in a country were several political parties openly call for land grabs –  may impossible to adjudicate in a predictable, just, and transparent manner.

The Bill is being tabled in the context of spiralling land invasions, over the past two years in particular, and a mounting risk of increased invasions made worse by other pending legislation and a short-sighted recent decision of the Cape Town high court.

Said Mlondi Mdluli, IRR Campaign Manager: “Land invasions pose a serious threat in South Africa. Unless the issues that have been raised in our submission have been addressed, the Unlawful Entering on Premises Bill of 2022 will not be able decisively to deal with the issue of land invasions. The Department of Justice and Correctional Services must do the right thing and reassess the Bill, while taking into consideration the valid concerns and suggestions that we have raised in our submission.”

Read the full submission here: 

https://irr.org.za/reports/submissions-on-proposed-legislation/submission-to-the-department-of-justice-and-correctional-services-regarding-the-unlawful-entry-on-premises-bill-of-2022

 

Media contacts: Gabriel Crouse, IRR Head of Campaigns – 082 510 0360; gabriel@irr.org.za

Mlondi Mdluli, IRR Campaign Manager- 071 148 2971; mlondi@irr.org.za

Media enquiries: Michael Morris Tel: 066 302 1968 Email: michael@irr.org.za

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