With South Africa being host to a number of high profile and increasingly popular sporting, recreational and entertainment events, the intention behind this Act, which came into force on 3 August 2010, is most welcome. The Act expressly recognises that “the physical well-being and safety of all persons attending sports, recreational, … exhibitional … or similar events … must be promoted and protected”, and in addition, their rights must be protected.

Some legislation may be considered as unnecessarily over-regulating society, but safety at events should take first place in the minds of those involved in the planning, promotion and presentation of an event. Little could be more important than the most basic right to be able to attend an event safe in the knowledge that there will be compliance with the law in place to regulate it.

The Act applies, with certain exceptions, to “… an event organiser …” defined as being “any person who plans, is in charge of, manages, supervises or holds an event or sponsorship rights to an event or in any manner controls or has a material interest in the hosting of an event as contemplated in [the]Act.” (emphasis added) This is indeed a potentially very wide-reaching provision.

Section 4(1) of the Act provides, amongst other persons, for the event organiser to put in place such measures as may be prescribed to ensure the physical safety and security of persons and their property at an event.

And in turn, event is defined as “sporting, entertainment, recreational, religious, cultural, exhibitional, organisational or similar activities hosted at a stadium, venue or along a route or within their respective precincts.”

While venue is “any area or place, other than a stadium where an event is hosted, that has a seating or standing spectator capacity of at least 2 000 persons as certified by a local authority, within which other permanent or temporary structures may be erected and which may be demarcated by an enclosed or semi-enclosed permanent or temporary structure”, the definition of route does not have any such threshold in relation to persons, and processions and races would be affected. So event organisers should consider their event very carefully, and a comprehensive and well-planned assessment so as to comply with this Act is strongly advised.

Subsections (2) to (10) of section 4, provide further details as to the responsibility for safety and security at events, and detailed provisions are set out in these subsections.

Section 5 is a prohibition on organising an event without compliance with the provisions of section 6(1) or 6(3) and section 25 and therefore it is of the utmost importance that the provisions of this Act are carefully considered well in advance of an event taking place.

Events need to be categorised, as provided for in section 6, and once again, sufficient advance planning is necessary, with section 6(1) requiring the submission of an annual schedule of events to the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service at least six months prior to the start of the calendar year or season for the event.

Exemptions are available on application to the Minister of Police. Contravention and non-compliance with the provisions of this Act constitute an offence, and a fine or imprisonment can be prescribed.

The act can be found here