Access to Public Premises and Vehicles

‘Small talk’ is defined as ‘polite conversation about minor or uncontroversial matters’.1 It is a conversation opener, conversation closer, and a space filler to avoid uncomfortable silences. On a slightly more fancy note, it has also been described as a ‘bonding ritual and a strategy for managing interpersonal distance’.2

The most common small talk is the weather. Then comes topics such as sport, travel, movies, and the like. Topics to be avoided, apparently to be reserved for well-known friends, are finance, politics, religion, sex, death, age and appearance, offensive jokes, one-sided topics, and past relationships.3

Well in Johannesburg, a top topic of small talk is ‘traffic!’ Unfortunately, however, we are our own enemies here – in a way. At least on the main thoroughfares, the Pretoria-Johannesburg-East routes, there is the perfectly good Gautrain high-speed rail network.

Gautrain takes 62 000 passengers per day. However, it was designed, and planned for, on the basis of up to 110 000 passenger trips per day.4 One of the fundamental reasons why the ridership is this 40% down, is because we prefer to be stuck in traffic.

And, one factor that has made it easier for us to punish ourselves this way is because Government has not enforced the tolling as was originally envisaged. So, the intended and anticipated push towards using the public transport system was undermined.

On the topic of Gautrain, the premises and vehicles under the control of its operating company5 have been declared6 as premises and vehicles for the purpose of the Control of Access to Public Premises and Vehicles Act 1985.7 The Act falls under the authority of the Minister of Police.

A. Officials’powers

  1. What this means is that Gautrain officials, and Gautrain security officials have a range of powers. In terms of the Gautrain Rules,8 given statutory force by the declaration, they can require you to:
    • furnish your name and address and any other relevant information;
    • produce proof of your identity;
    • declare whether you have with you any firearm and/or dangerous object;
    • declare the contents of any vehicle, suitcase, bag, envelope, container, etc. - and display those contents;
    • undergo an examination by an electronic or other apparatus in order to determine the presence of any dangerous object;
    • hand over anything in your possession or control for examination, or custody until you leave the Gautrain network; and
    • be searched.
  2. They can also:
    • request you to produce a ticket9 or work permit authorising you to be in certain particular areas;
    • refuse permission for you to enter an area unless you produce a ticket or work permit;
    • remove you from certain areas if you:
      • refuse or fail to product a ticket or work permit authorising you to enter and be within that area;
      • contravene or fail to comply with any of the Gautrain Rules; or
      • if the official considers it necessary for safeguarding the Gautrain network, or the contents thereof, or for the protection of people.
  3. With regard to vehicles, parked or driven in contravention of a notice erected in the network, the officials can:
    • direct the person who is driving the vehicle to leave that place immediately;
    • if the owner or person who parked a vehicle is readily available, order such owner or person to remove the vehicle from that place; or
    • if the owner or person who parked the vehicle is not readily available:
      • immobilise the vehicle by mechanical means, such as a clamp; or
      • remove the vehicle from that place and cause such vehicle to be impounded and;
      • recover the towing cost from the vehicle owner/driver.
  4. It is a criminal offence to:
    • refuse to comply with any such directions or requirements;10
    • refuse or fail to observe any condition upon which authorisation for you to do something was granted;11
    • obstruct, hinder, resist, or interfere with an officer in the performance of such functions.12

B. False pretences

  1. It is an offence falsely to pretend to be an officer authorised under the Act (i.e. a Gautrain or ACSA official).13

  2. It is a crime to make any statement, or furnish information (whether to such officer, or for any reason to do with the Act) which is false, and you know it to be false.14

  1. Concise Oxford English Dictionary. 

  2. Bickmore: ‘A computational model of small talk’, accessed online at

  3. ‘Topics to avoid when making small talk’. 

  4. See the interview with the head of the Gautrain project, Jack van der Merwe, at – ‘Gautrain agency crunching numbers on new lines, tunnels and rolling stock.’ 

  5. Bombela Operating Company (Pty) Ltd. 

  6. See Government Notice 1223 published in Government Gazette 32829 on 21 February 2009. 

  7. As is the case with the premises and vehicles under the control of the Airports Company South Africa Ltd (ACSA) at all ten international airports: OR Tambo, Cape Town International, Durban, Kimberley, Bloemfontein, George, Port Elizabeth, East London, Pilanesberg and Upington. 

  8. See

  9. Or, as most passengers use, the ‘Gold Card’. 

  10. Section 4(a) read with section 2(2). 

  11. Section 4(c) read with section 2(3)(a). 

  12. Section 4(e). 

  13. Section 4(d). 

  14. Section 4(b).