Events Safety

Now and again, sports stadia around the world have flashed into media headlines because, unfortunately, of one or other drama. Often, the tragedy stems from structural issues of the building itself; but, sometimes, hooliganism and crowd control problems have been the reason.

It was crowd control mismanagement which caused the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, when 96 people were killed at a FA Cup semifinal match. This prompted a thorough investigation into the concept of crowd control at stadium-hosted events. On Thursday 28 November 2019, the trial of Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield on charges of manslaughter was concluded, 30 years after the tragedy, with a not-guilty acquittal which angered thousands.1

Crowd control has now become a science. Measures to monitor and control movement into and out of stadia and venues are firmly in place. Events have to be categorised, for example, according to a number of variables affecting the anticipated risk: the nature of the event (for example – religious meeting, or needle match between opposing football teams), expected attendance numbers, and so forth.

Not only is there SANS 10366, a 200 page document regulating ‘Health and Safety at Events’ published by Standards South Africa, but there is also the Safety at Sports and Recreational Events Act 2010.

We might not beware of this, but each time we go through the many irritating check points at a big concert, it is by design. And so – be patient, and be grateful.

A. Safety certificates

  1. Any new stadium or venue2 which has a spectator capacity of at least 2 000 persons must be designed according to several requirements, including those relating to infrastructure, medical facilities, safety, and security. At least three months before the planned commencement of construction, the owner must apply for a certificate in respect of the safety of the design. It is a criminal offence to commence construction without that certificate.3

  2. An existing stadium must also obtain safety certificates. It is an offence to organise4 an event at a stadium which does not have a valid safety certificate.5

  3. Even if a safety certificate has been issued, it is an offence to commence an alteration or extension to the venue, without prior approval from the local authority.6

  4. The National Commissioner of Police must make a ‘risk-categorisation’ for an event,7 taking into account a host of various factors. If he categorises an event as ‘high risk’, at least 60 days before the event, the organiser must apply for a high-risk safety-certificate. If he organises the event without that certificate, it is a crime.8

  5. Any safety certificate may contain conditions imposed by the local authority, or by the National Commissioner of Police in the case of a high-risk event. It is a crime for the event organiser or venue owner not to comply with any of these conditions.9

  6. The local authority may appoint inspectors, who can make such enquiries as may be necessary to ensure compliance with the Act. It is an offence for any person present at an inspection not to cooperate with or furnish to the inspector such assistance as may be required.10

B. Organiser’s responsibility

  1. The event organiser or venue owner must put in place all prescribed measures to ensure the physical safety, at an event, of persons and their property. They commit a crime if they fail to do so.11

  2. Each event will have a venue operations centre (VOC) decided upon by a safety and security planning committee, which coordinates the entire safety and security operation of an event. Its commander is a specifically authorised police official. It is an offence not to cooperate with the planning committee or the VOC commander in the performance of their official functions.12

  3. The event organiser, or a venue owner, commits a crime if he does not appoint:
    • safety and security officers and sufficient other persons responsible for safety and security at an event;13
    • stewards responsible for: marshalling the flow of spectators, providing event information, ushering, and emergency evacuation assistance.14
  4. Any person so appointed commits a crime if he is not present at the event; or if he does not take all reasonable steps to safeguard the event, and the protection of people and property.15

  5. It is a crime for anyone to provide security services at an event if he is not registered as a security officer in terms of the Private Security Industry Regulation Act 2001.16

  6. It is a criminal offence to organise an event unless an annual schedule of events is submitted to the National Commissioner of Police at least six months before the start of the year, or of the season if the event is seasonal. (If an event is planned after the schedule has been submitted, the National Commissioner of Police must be notified forthwith.)17

  7. It is a criminal offence to organise an event unless proper public liability insurance is in place.18

  8. The National Commissioner of Police may, if the admission of spectators involves a serious risk to any person at the event, prohibit or restrict their admission. A notice is issued, after he has consulted the safety and security planning committee for the event, and any person who fails to comply with the notice commits a crime.19

  9. The same applies to a notice excluding any particular person, or group of persons from attending an event, where there are reasonable grounds to believe that their attendance will result in a threat of disruption of the event, or injury to person, or damage to property.20

C. Touting

It is a crime to do any of the following. For a commercial purpose, without prior written authorisation of the event organiser or venue owner to:

D. Spectators

The following are all criminal offences applicable to the venue, or along the route to the venue:

  1. See, for example:

  2. ‘Stadium’ and ‘venue’ will be referred to interchangeably. 

  3. Section 44(1)(f) read with section 9. 

  4. ‘Organise’ also means merely to hold sponsorship rights for an event! 

  5. Section 44(1)(e) read with section 8. 

  6. Section 44(1)(g) read with section 10(1). 

  7. Section 6(1 - 6). 

  8. Section 44(1)(h) read with section 11. 

  9. Section 44(1)(i) read with section 12. 

  10. Section 44(1)(d) read with section 14(6). 

  11. Section 44(1)(b) read with section 4(1). 

  12. Section 44(1)(b) read with section 4(2), sections 15 and 17. 

  13. Section 44(1)(b) read with section 4(4)(a). 

  14. Section 44(1)(b) read with section 4(4)(b). 

  15. Section 44(1)(b) read with section 4(5)(a). 

  16. Section 44(1)(b) read with section 4(7). 

  17. Section 44(1)(a) read with section 4(4)(a). 

  18. Section 44(1)(a) read with section 5(1) and section 25. 

  19. Section 44(1)(j) read with section 21. 

  20. Section 44(1)(k) read with section 22. 

  21. Section 44(1)(c) read with section 5(2)(a). 

  22. Section 44(1)(c) read with section 5(2)(b). 

  23. Section 44(1)(c) read with section 5(2)(b). 

  24. Section 44(1)(c) read with section 5(2)(c). 

  25. Section 44(1)(c) read with section 5(2)(d). 

  26. Section 44(1)(c) read with section 5(2)(e). 

  27. Section 44(1)(l). 

  28. Section 44(1)(m). 

  29. Section 44(1)(n). 

  30. Section 44(1)(n). 

  31. Section 44(1)(0). 

  32. Section 44(1)(p)(i). 

  33. Section 44(1)(p)(i). 

  34. Section 44(1)(p)(ii). 

  35. Section 44(1)(q). 

  36. Section 44(1)(r). 

  37. Section 44(1)(s). 

  38. Section 44(1)(t). 

  39. Section 44(1)(u).