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Architects

If you seek his monument, look around you.1

The Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria is 40 metres long, 40 metres wide, and 40 metres high. In the centre of its marble floor is a cenotaph – an empty tomb – which bears the engraved commitment: “Ons vir jou, Suid Afrika”. What is particularly remarkable about this – at least, for present purposes – is that at 12 noon, exactly, on 16 December each year, a ray of sunlight pierces a tiny opening in the dome 40 metres up, and focuses precisely in the middle of the cenotaph’s head. That this happens is not accidental. Given what modern construction can achieve, it may not seem marvellous; but seeing that the Monument was built in the early 1940’s, this is a feat of Gerard Moerdijk’s architectural genius – for it was by his design.

The 16th of December was for long commemorated as the Day of the Vow. It was so called, because it was on that day, in 1838, that 470 Voortrekkers were besieged by over ten thousand Zulu Impi. Before the Battle of Blood River (as it came to be known) the Voortrekkers took a vow forever to honour the day in return for God’s help in securing victory. That’s the connection with the ray of sunlight.

Virtually every structure of brick, concrete, iron and steel we see today has been designed by an architect. The modern day profession is governed by the Architectural Professions Act 2000,2 which falls under the authority of the Minister of Public Works. The Act established the South African Council for the Architectural Professions,3 and it is this body which, effectively, oversees the administration of the Act.

A. Registration

  1. No one may practise as a Professional Architect, Senior Architectural Technologist, Architectural Technologist or Architectural Draftsperson unless he is registered in that category with the Council.4 It is a crime to do otherwise.5

  2. No one may practise as a Candidate at any such category (for example, Candidate Architectural Technologist) unless he is registered in that category with the Council.6 It is a crime to do so.7

  3. Any person whose registration has been cancelled must return his registration certificate to the Registrar (who within 30 days of being directed to do so).8 If you fail to comply with this provision, you commit a criminal offence.910

B. Disciplinary Hearings

The Council can appoint a disciplinary tribunal to hear and determine charges of improper conduct against any registered person.11 The tribunal has a wide variety of powers relative to such a hearing.12

  1. It is an offence13 for a witness who has been subpoenaed:
    • to fail (without sufficient cause) to attend the hearing at the time and place specified in the subpoena;14
    • to refuse to be sworn in (or to be affirmed) as a witness;15
    • to fail (without sufficient cause) to answer, fully and satisfactorily, all questions lawfully put to him;16
    • to fail to produce any book, document or object in his possession, custody or under his control which he has been required to produce.17
  2. A witness who has been subpoenaed must remain in attendance until excused by the chairperson of the disciplinary tribunal,18 and commits an offence by not doing so.19

  3. A witness may not knowingly give a false statement on any matter,20 and commits an offence if he does.21

  4. It is a crime to prevent another person from complying with a subpoena, or from giving evidence, or from producing a book, document or object which he is required to produce.22

  5. Actually, as with all governors, the Council is not above the law. It must, within six months from the close of each financial year (or such other period as may be agreed to by the Minister) submit its audited statement and balance sheet to the Minister and the CBE.23 If it fails to do so, it commits an offence.24
  1. So says the inscription (actually, this is a translation – the inscription itself is in Latin) in a circle of black marble embedded in the main floor directly beneath the centre of the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, London. It was placed there by the son of Sir Christopher Wren, probably England’s most famous architect ever, and responsible for that world famous cathedral – which was completed in 1710. 

  2. There have been no amendments to the Act. 

  3. The Council is situated at First Floor, Lakeside Place, Corner Ernest Oppenheimer and Queens Street, Bruma, Johannesburg. It can be contacted on 011 479 5100. 

  4. Section 18(2) read with Section 18(1)(a) 

  5. Section 41(1) 

  6. Section 18(2) read with 18(1)(b) 

  7. Section 41(1) 

  8. Section 23 

  9. Section 41(1) 

  10. The same applies to a voluntary association whose recognition by the Council has lapsed. Failure of an association to do so also constitutes an offence in terms of section 25(8) read with section 41(1) 

  11. Section 30(1) 

  12. Section 31 

  13. Section 41(1) 

  14. Section 31(8)(a)(i) 

  15. Section 31(8)(a)(ii) 

  16. Section 31(8)(a)(iii) 

  17. Section 31(8)(a)(iv) 

  18. Section 31(8)(b) 

  19. Section 41(1) 

  20. Section 31(8)(e) 

  21. Section 31(8)(e) 

  22. Section 31(8)(f) read with section 41(1) 

  23. The Council for the Built Environment. 

  24. Section 41(2) read with Section 15(8).