South Africa: MEC Albert Fritz Welcomes Critical Infrastructure Protection Act

press release

The Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz, has welcomed the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act which was assented into law by the Presidency on 20 November 2019. Minister Fritz further calls on all Departments and Municipalities to closely study the Act and ensure its speedy implementation.

The purpose of the Act is to provide for measures to be put in place for the protection, safeguarding and resilience of critical infrastructures. The Act further allows for decisive action against people who destroy critical infrastructure such as trains and busses.

Minister Fritz said, "Critical infrastructure refers to 'any building, centre, establishment, facility, installation, pipeline, premises or systems needed for the functioning of society, the Government or enterprises of the Republic, and includes any transport network or network for the delivery of electricity or water'. In the face of deliberate attacks on public transport system, this Act aims to bring stability back to our public transport system."

Minister Fritz said, "I welcome the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act which will come into operation on a date determined by the President in the Government Gazette. The Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, must then declare said infrastructure as critical infrastructure before the Act applies to it.

I call on all Departments and Municipalities to closely study the Act and ensure its speedy implementation. My Department will assist in providing the necessary advice and support. In the interim, Government will make use of the Criminal Matters Amendment Act of 2015, which also prescribes minimum sentences for damage to infrastructure."

Minister Fritz added, "In particular, I wish to welcome Section 26 (3) and (4) of the Act which allows for decisive action to be taken against those who unlawfully intend to or who are proven to cause damage or substantial harm to critical infrastructure. Those convicted of intent to cause damage could be imprisoned for up to seven years and those proven to have caused damage could be imprisoned up to 20 years. Let this be a stern warning to all who wish to undermine our public transport system."

Chapter 5 of the Act outlines 'Offences and Penalties'. Section 26 (3) and (4) of the Act state that:

"(3) If the evidence on a charge for any offence in subsection (1)(a) to (i) proves that the activity referred to was carried out with the intention to cause damage or substantial harm to critical infrastructure, a court may, in the case of critical infrastructure categorised as--

(a) low-risk, impose a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years or both a fine and imprisonment;

(b) medium-risk, impose a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years, or both a fine and imprisonment; or

(c) high-risk, impose a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding seven years, or both a fine and imprisonment.

(4) If the evidence on a charge for any offence in subsection (1)(a) to (i) proves that the activity referred to in fact caused damage, substantial harm or loss of property to the critical infrastructure in question, the court may in the case of critical infrastructure categorised as--

(a) low-risk, impose a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 years, or both a fine and imprisonment;

(b) medium-risk, impose a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 15

years, or both a fine and imprisonment;

(c) high-risk, impose a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 20 years, or both a fine and imprisonment.

Minister Fritz said, "Noting that SAPS have failed to bring anyone to book over the deliberate attacks on our railway infrastructure, I have asked the Western Cape Police Ombudsman (WCPO) office to investigate this. Ultimately, the above Act will be for naught if we are unable to arrest the perpetrators.

I am pleased to announce that the matter will be investigated by the WCPO and has been allocated to senior investigators. I have been informed that the investigation could be completed within a three-month time frame, and that a notice of investigation will be published in the Gazette which lies open for 30 days, for public comment."

The DA-led Western Cape Government remains committed to using each tool at its disposal to safeguard the Western Cape.

Issued by: Western Cape Community Safety

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