Please see the latest happenings for this week.
Publication of the Amendments to the Regulations – The Plant Improvement Act
The amendments to the Regulations, as issued in terms of the Plant Improvement Act No. 53 of 1976, were Gazetted.
Hemp declared an agricultural product
The amendments to the Regulations, as issued in terms of the Plant Improvement Act No. 53 of 1976, were Gazetted on 8 October 2021. The authority for such being seen in the auspices of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development.
The amended regulations declare that Cannabis Sativa L, also known as hemp, as an agricultural product. Thus, in the wake of the publication of these amendments to the Regulations, as of 29 October 2021, and subject to acquiring a Hemp Permit from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (the Registrar of Plant Improvement), hemp may be imported, exported, cultivated and sold. Thus, whilst such is to be seen as an agricultural product, its growth and harvest depends on a valid licence.
It has been stressed that these amendments do not extend to that of dagga/marijuana. Thus, the commercial use of dagga/marijuana is still governed and regulated by the 2018 Constitutional Court decision handed down by Justice Zondo. It remains that hemp and dagga/marijuana are not to be equated. The commercial use of the latter is criminalised.
It would seem as if the cannabis industry is making certain moves towards development. Much is to be said about the anticipated Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill to be released.
Competition Commission charges Wesbank and Toyota financial services for collusion
FirstRand Bank Limited, Wesbank, and Toyota Financial Services South Africa Limited (TFS) have been reported and taken to the Competition Tribunal for possible prosecution. These being on allegations of dividing the market by allocating customers or suppliers. The report compiled by the Commissioner reveals that Wesbank and TFS agreed to divide markets by allocating customers or suppliers in the market for the provision of vehicle finance. This being in contravention of section 4 of the Competition Act 89 of 1998.
Whilst these two entities are to be in competition, a shareholder agreement was concluded whereby clauses were evident that prevented them from competing. FirstRand, TSA Investment Holdings Limited and Toyota Motor Finance (UK) PLC have 33.3% share each in TSA. They concluded shareholder agreement which include clauses that prohibit WesBank from offering vehicle finance to customers seeking to purchase vehicles at authorised Toyota dealerships.
The agreement in question alludes to market division by allocating customers or suppliers in violation of section 4(1)(b)(ii) of the Act.
This conduct is harmful to the consumers as it deprives them of the benefits which arise from competition. The Commissioner has requested the Tribunal to fine the company 10% of their annual turnover.
Welcomed new legislation to protect victims of cyber abuse.
The conduct of cyber abuse, in which harm and abuse occurs through the medium of the internet, is now being criminalised and sanctioned though the ambit of the Cybercrimes Act no. 19 of 2020. The Cybercrimes Act came into operation on 1 December 2021.
The main aim of the Act is “inter-alia, criminalise the disclosure of data messages which are harmful and to provide for interim protection orders to be granted pending the outcome of criminal prosecutions”. Such offence can be seen in the auspices of Section 16 of the Cybercrimes Act and thus, such section 16 provisions should be read so as to understand the full
It is advised that victims of a cyber-crime report the incident and lay a criminal charge with SAPS. Moreover, an ex parte, interim protection order may be granted by the court within the jurisdiction. As such, the victim in the matter is seen to be protected to a large extent.
Comment sought on Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill
The Mineral Resources and Energy Department have published the Draft Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill in Government Gazette 45898 for comment. This Bill has been drawn up for the setting up of the Transmission System Operator. The publication of the draft bill for comment occurred on the 9th of February 2022.
According to Cabinet, the draft amendments seek to “align the country with the international best practice in energy and provide for the functions of a Transmission System Operator, and for a licensing framework for power generation, transmission, distribution and trading”. Amongst others, aims such as;
Taking a look at blockchain and how it can be used against counterfeits
Blockchain, a system of technology that records and processes information in a way that makes it virtually impossible to alter, has the potential to curb the consequences of counterfeits. In this, blockchain is able to track the origins of a particular product within its systems. Whilst counterfeits have the ability to produce and sell replicated products containing the same security features and information at face value, blockchain offers a solution to identify the unauthorised and/or offending products.
In this, due to Blockchains ability to meticulously record transaction history and information through Artificial Intelligence, the counterfeit or unauthorised product will not have the same information that is evident on the Blockchain system. As such, an irregularity will be evident and this will provide an opportunity to take action in such an event.
The advantages of blockchain outweigh its disadvantages. For instance, all altered information within a contract or transaction will be recorded within real time and thus, allows for all parties to the contract/transaction to be aware of conduct that pertains to the agreement in which the Blockchain is utilised. Another advantage is that Blockchain is decentralised and as such, there are no overarching institutions or organisations controlling it. This allows for a global perspective to be taken in that it may be used worldwide and as such, no additional fees are paid, unlike the centralised bank system which we have today.
Check before you ACT- Salient topics covered in the 2022 State of the Nation Address (SONA)
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered the annual The State of the Nation Address on 10 February 2022. In this, there are important aspects which have been highlighted in analysing the address. The most notable issues raised by President Ramaphosa are that of the undertakings to address and eradicate “red tape” constraints that pose restrictions on business, to develop infrastructure investment and to continue to implement reform.
As summarised, here are the more salient topics covered in the recent SONA;
New rules for the property sector
President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed the Property Practitioners Act 22 of 2019 (“PPA”) into law. The PPA commenced its application from 1 February 2021.
The PPA brings an end to the Estate Agencies Affairs Act 112 of 1976 (“EAAA”) and thus, has created new formed protections for property consumers. Furthermore, the PPA has included various other parties in the definition of a “Property Practitioner” expanding applicability, whereas the EAAA only applied to estate agents.
Moreover, the PPA expands the statutory mandate of the Estate Agencies Affairs Board (“EAAB”) and brings about important changes for the property sector.
The PPA is aimed at:
It is important for members of the property market to make themselves aware of this new piece of legislation as new obligations and rights have been formed as a result. Moreover, the range in which the PPA extends to, allows for new parties to be identified in the obligations that have been imposed. As such, the extent to which this piece of legislation extends
Should you like to receive more detailed Newsflash reports, please contact us directly for further information.