Geomatics: Land and Technical Surveying

‘Dixie’ is the nickname for the Southern United States – made famous in the song of the same name, by Elvis Presley (although written a century before). There is also Dixie jazz, and the well-known (and sometimes controversial) country music girl band The Dixie Chicks, and so on.

So what has this got to do with geomatics?

Well, one of the theories of the name’s origin is because Jeremiah Dixon (an Englishman, together with his partner Charles Mason) was a land surveyor who established the divide between the Northern and Southern States, way back in 1767. It became the ‘Mason-Dixon Line’, and still exists.

Land surveyors have divided up the world, its continents, its countries, provinces, cities, towns, townships and suburbs. Whether pegging out farm land, or a new development, or a new road, these professionals are the ones who do it. The science is called geomatics, but this is more broad than land surveying – it encompasses all branches in the science of measurement, collection and assessment of geographic information.

The Geomatics Profession Act of 2013 is the governing legislation. It falls under the authority of the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, but its operations are effectively administered by the South African Geomatics Council.1

A. Registration

  1. There are different branches of the geomatics profession:
    • a candidate geomatics practitioner;
    • a geomatics technician;
    • a geomatics technologist; and
    • a geomatics professional.

    To practise as one of these, or perform any work reserved for one of these categories of the profession, you must be registered with the Council. It is a crime to do otherwise.2

  2. In particular, unless you are registered as a professional land surveyor, you commit an offence if you do any surveying:
    • for purposes of a diagram or general plan for the registration of any land or rights in land; or even to be mentioned in any other documents to be filed or registered relating to land or rights in land;
    • affecting the delimitation of the boundaries of any land which is registered, or the locations of any beacons for any land which is registered.3
  3. If your registration has been cancelled, you must return the certificate of registration to the Registrar with 30 days after you have been directed by the Registrar to do so. It is an offence if you fail to do this.4

  4. The same applies to any voluntary association or institution.5

  5. The Minister can prescribe work to be reserved for different branches of the profession. If you are not registered in the particular category, it is an offence to:
    • perform any kind of work reserved for that category;6
    • pretend to be, or allow yourself to be held out as a person so registered.7
  6. It is a crime to use the name of any (other) registered person, or his title.8

B. Disciplinary hearings

  1. The Council appoints disciplinary tribunals to hear complaints of improper conduct. That tribunal can summon any witnesses, and it is an offence to refuse to be sworn in as a witness.9

  2. It is also a crime knowingly to make a false statement or give any false answer.10

  3. If you have been subpoenaed as a witness, it is a crime if you:
    • fail to attend the hearing;11
    • do not remain in attendance until excused;12
    • do not answer all questions fully and satisfactorily and to the best of your knowledge;13
    • fail to produce any book, document or object which you were required to produce.14
  4. It is a crime to prevent another person from complying with a subpoena, or giving evidence, or producing any book, document or object which he was required to produce.15
  1. The website refers to the Council as the South African Council for Professional and Technical Surveyors. This is the name of the Council established under the previous legislation, the Professional and Technical Surveyors Act 1984, which was replaced only on 1 August 2015. 

  2. Section 13(2)(a) read with section 36(1). 

  3. Section 13(2)(b) read with section 36(1). 

  4. Section 15 read with section 36(1). 

  5. Section 18(6) read with section 36(1). 

  6. Section 16(3)(a) read with section 36(1). 

  7. Section 16(3) read with section 36(1). 

  8. Section 16(3)(c) read with section 36(1). 

  9. Section 23(5)(b)(i) read with section 36(1). 

  10. Section 23(5)(b)(ii) read with section 36(1). 

  11. Section 23(5)(c)(i) read with section 36(1). 

  12. Section 23(5)(c)(i) read with section 36(1). 

  13. Section 23(5)(c)(ii) read with section 36(1). 

  14. Section 23(5)(c)(iii) read with section 36(1). 

  15. Section 23(6) read with section 36(1).