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New Law to deal with trespassers on Private Property explained

By Neelam Rahim

A proposed new law to deal with trespassers on private property is open for public comment. The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development says contrary to information that was doing the rounds, the new draft bill deals only with the offence of trespassing and makes no changes to other standing South African laws regarding criminality or self-defence.

Speaking to Radio Islam International, Department spokesperson Chrispin Phiri said the law was passed when South Africa was still under the colony of the British government, and the Queen of England passed the law at the time.

According to Phiri, it’s a law that’s wholly inadequate. For instance, it does not adequately define what an intruder is, what a lawful occupier is, nor does it determine what an unlawful occupier is.

He said the new laws proposed are to address those types of deficiencies. It also extends the definition of what premises is.

He added that the plan now also creates certain obligations to some extent for people to enable themselves to protect their premises adequately.

If someone occupies a home whilst the owner is away for some time and is trying to bring this person to book, Phiri said they have to produce some documentation under the new law, including a title deed or lease agreement for the property. If unable to deliver that, one will be considered an unlawful occupant.

“What we want to do under the new proposed law is to make it easier to show the difference between a lawful and unlawful occupant.”

There are three ways in which the public can comment on the new proposed bill: by post, email or fax.

Listen to the interview on Radio Islam’s podcast below.

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