National Land Transport

‘I saw what happened,’ says Burki, who finished fifth in the race. ‘I saw Mary pushed Zola from the back. Zola overtook Mary and Mary didn’t want to give that position in front. Mary ran into Zola from the back… As she fell down, she pushed Zola.’1

This incident captured the fascinated attention, worldwide, of anyone even vaguely interested in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, or just the news of the day. It was a sad moment for Zola Budd, who was booed from the stadium, the none-too-partisan crowd waiting to see their American sweetheart Mary Decker win gold in the women’s 3 000 metre event.

Nowadays, the moniker ‘Zola Budd’ might mean more to South Africans as the nickname for the Toyota Hi Ace minibus taxis which travel, frequent and sometimes terrorize our roads.2 Of course, the taxi got its nickname due to the speed and endurance which made the original famous. The minibus taxi phenomenon is one which most (others) love to hate, but the estimated 200 000 vehicles move 15 million people every day, generating almost R50 billion in revenue per annum.3 It’s a sizeable and valuable industry.

Well, transforming, restructuring and regulating that industry – and the many others making up the broad spectrum of land transport in South Africa, from freight cargo, to tourism, to school lift clubs – is the purpose of the National Land Transport Act 2009. It falls under the ultimate authority of the Minister of Transport.

A. Public transport service

This is defined as a service for the carriage of passengers by road or rail, whether subject to a contract or not, and where the service is provided for a fare or any other consideration or reward.4

  1. It is an offence to operate a public transport service if you are not the holder of an operating licence or permit issued for the particular vehicle.5

  2. Anyone who operates a public transport service contrary to the terms and conditions of an operating licence or permit commits an offence.6

B. Passengers on a public transport service

  1. If you are conveyed as a passenger in the course of public transport it is a crime not to pay the fare due for the journey when payment is requested by the driver or conductor.7

  2. If you smoke or drink liquor in that vehicle, in contravention of a notice on the vehicle which forbids smoking or drinking, you commit an offence.8

  3. You commit a crime if you wilfully act in a manner that inconveniences a fellow passenger.9

  4. Same if you perform any act in or on the vehicle that could cause injury to or endanger the life of any person, or cause damage to any property.10

  5. It is an offence to disobey any reasonable instruction issued by the driver or conductor for the purpose of maintaining order, or ending a disturbance, or controlling any emergency.11

  6. If you use a vehicle for a public transport service in contravention of the Act you commit an offence.12

C. Operating licences

  1. The holder of an operating licence or permit (or his agent or employee as the case may be) commits an offence if he allows someone else to use that operating licence or permit for a vehicle other than the specified vehicle.13

  2. It is an offence to apply for, or obtain an operating licence knowing that a current operating licence has already been issued with regard to the same vehicle.14

  3. The holder of an operating licence or permit (or the driver of a vehicle to which that operating licence or permit relates) commits a crime if he fails to comply with any duty or obligation imposed by, or in terms of, the Act.15

  4. Whenever a manager, agent or employee of the holder of an operating licence or permit performs (or omits to perform) any act which, if the holder had performed or omitted to perform that act personally, would have constituted an offence that holder is guilty of the offence if he:16

    • connived at or knowingly permitted the act or omission concerned; or
    • did not take all reasonable measures to prevent that act or omission, and
    • such act (or omission) fell within the scope of the authority or the course of the employment of the manager, agent or employee.17

D. Fraudulent conduct regarding operating licences

  1. Any person who, with the intention to deceive, forges, alters, defaces, damages or adds to any operating licence, permit or other official document issued under the Act commits a crime.18

  2. A person is guilty of an offence if, knowing that a document is not an operating licence or permit or such other official document, or that it has been altered, defaced, damaged or added to, tenders or uses the document.19

  3. A person is guilty of an offence if the person gives false information in, or with regard to, any application made in connection with an operating licence, or in the course of appearing in any proceedings, investigation or inquiry relating thereto.20

E. Authorised officers21

  1. It is an offence to impersonate an authorised officer.22

  2. If you wilfully obstruct or hinder an authorised officer discharging his duties you commit a crime.23

  3. Anyone who refuses or fails to comply with a lawful order, direction or demand made by an authorised officer in the discharge or performance of any function or duty entrusted to him in terms of the Act commits an offence.24

F. International borders

  1. You may not drop passengers near an international border, if it is clear that they intend to cross the border, if you do not have the necessary permit in terms of the Cross-Border Road Transport Act 1998. You commit an offence if you do.25

  2. It is also an offence, if you do not have the necessary permit, to pick up passengers near an international border if it is clear that they have crossed the border into the Republic from another state.26

G. Tourist transport services

  1. It is a crime to operate a tourist transport service without accreditation by the National Public Transport Regulator.27

  2. It is a crime to do so also after your accreditation has been cancelled.28

  3. Any person who uses a vehicle for tourist transport services which has not been certified by the Regulator, commits an offence.29

  4. Anyone who uses a vehicle for tourist transport services commits an offence if the vehicle does not display the special tag, token or equipment issued by the Regulator.30

  5. It is a crime to use any rank or terminal for tourist transport services if you do not have written permission from the relevant planning authority, or the operator of the service has not paid the fees charged by that authority.31

H. Transport planning

  1. It is a crime to transport dangerous substances in the area of a planning authority except on a route designated and indicated in an integrated transport plan (if such a route has been determined and published).32

  2. Any person who undertakes a development involving a change or intensification in land use (or in the development proposal) without the approval of the planning authority, or contrary to a condition imposed by such an authority, commits an offence.33

I. General

  1. It is an offence to contravene any provision of the Act.34 There are not many provisions, at all, likely to incur criminal sanction under this stipulation, but the following are the more potentially applicable:
    • no person may undertake a public transport service to or from a special event35 except in the course of operating a courtesy service36 or a tourist service; or if it is under an operating licence for the relevant route or area; or there is a temporary operating licence in place.37
    • a metered taxi may not pick up passengers outside of its licensed area unless the fare is prebooked and the passengers will return to that area.38

    The same applies to a charter service.39

    If the accreditation of a tourist service operator has been cancelled by the Regulator, the operator must, within 14 days, return all licences, tokens, tags, and other equipment (issued by the Registrar) to it.40

  1. Reproduced from the article ‘After The Fall’, published in the authoritative magazine ‘Runner’s World’ at Burki was a Swiss runner. An hour after the event, Zola Budd was exonerated by the IAAF from all liability in Mary Decker’s fall. 

  2. Previously, these vehicles were the most popular taxis. Currently, the 16 seater Toyota Quantum-based Ses’fikile (Xhosa for ‘we have arrived’) is the most popular. See – ‘Taxi Business … African Style’. 

  3. – ‘The SA minibus taxi industry is absolutely massive – here’s everything you need to know’. 

  4. Including cabotage in respect of passenger transport as defined in the Cross-Border Act. See the definitions in section 1 of the Act. 

  5. Section 90(1)(a). 

  6. Section 90(1)(b). 

  7. Section 90(1)(k)(i). 

  8. Section 90(1)(k)(ii). 

  9. Section 90(1)(k)(iii). 

  10. Section 90(1)(k)(v). 

  11. Section 90(1)(k)(iv). 

  12. Section 90(1)(n). 

  13. Section 90(1)(c). 

  14. Section 90(1)(d). 

  15. Section 90(1)(l). 

  16. Section 90(3). 

  17. Section 90(3). 

  18. Section 90(1)(e). 

  19. Section 90(1)(f). 

  20. Section 90(1)(g). 

  21. These are: inspectors specifically appointed by the provincial departments, or municipality; road transport inspectors; members of SAPS; and employees of provincial departments or municipalities, or the Road Traffic Management Corporation whose duty is to control traffic, or to inspect vehicles or licences. 

  22. Section 90(1)(h). 

  23. Section 90(1)(i). 

  24. Section 90(1)(j). 

  25. Section 90(1)(m). 

  26. Section 90(1)(m) read with section 75(2). 

  27. Section 90(1)(o). 

  28. Section 90(1)(o). 

  29. Section 90(1)(p). 

  30. Section 90(1)(p). 

  31. Section 90(1)(p) read with section 84(5). 

  32. Section 37(4) read with section 37(5). 

  33. Section 38(9). 

  34. Section 90(1)(q). 

  35. This means a once-off cultural, religious, sporting or recreational event, or any entertainment, conference, exhibition or show – see the definition in section 1 of the Act. 

  36. Such as that provided by a hotel, or other such organisation, with no direct charge to the passengers – See the definition in section 1 of the Act. 

  37. Section 60(1). 

  38. Section 66(1). 

  39. Section 67(2). 

  40. Section 83(3).