Cape Town - The long-awaited Second-Hand Goods Act will come into effect on April 1, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Wednesday.
Replying to a parliamentary question, he said the act would ensure more thieves and buyers of stolen goods are arrested and convicted.
"Any person who buys stolen goods is as guilty as the person who stole the goods, and harsher sentences will apply to both the buyer and the thief," he said.
"I have instructed the SA Police Service management to ensure that the Second-Hand Goods Act, which seeks to regulate second-hand goods dealers and recyclers and will be an important tool in the effort to clamp down on stolen goods, is implemented by April this year."
As part of the first phase of implementation, certain sections of the act came into effect on December 13 and January 16.
These sections provided for, among others, accreditation of second-hand goods dealers' associations and regulated "suspicious transactions", as well as the possession, acquisition and disposal of controlled metal cable, for example, copper.
A national structure has also been established to deal with the control of second-hand goods.
Among other things, the act requires all dealers in second-hand goods to report to the police all suspicious transactions where the seller attempts to provide false particulars, or where the goods are suspected to be stolen or tampered with.
Second-hand goods dealers and pawnbrokers will therefore not only have to take reasonable steps to ensure that they do not buy stolen goods or goods that have been tampered with, but also be careful from whom they buy goods. If an unscrupulous dealer is found guilty, a court can impose a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Mthethwa said people dealing in or in possession of non-ferrous (controlled metal) cable with a burnt cover are committing an offence, unless they can provide the police with a reasonable explanation for the burnt cover.
"This offence too gives a court the power to sentence copper thieves and unscrupulous scrap dealers to imprisonment for a period of 10 years.
"We therefore believe this legislation will assist in combating both copper and property crimes," Mthethwa said.
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Original Fin24 article can be found HERE