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Second-hand Goods

Preloved, pretested, used, preowned – all alternative expressions for second-hand goods; in other words, not new.

A large proportion of the population will, at one time or another, have purchased something second hand – whether from a motor dealer, eBay, Cash Converters, or the local flea market. Unless you built your home, it probably is, yes, second hand.

The Second-Hand Goods Act 20091 regulates the business of dealers in second-hand goods and pawn brokers. Two important policy considerations are at stake: to prevent the public from being ripped off, but – more importantly – to combat trade in stolen goods.

‘Second-hand goods’ are goods (such as books, cars, jewellery, antiques, factory equipment, sporting equipment, etc.) worth more than R100 which have been in use by a person other than the manufacturer, or producer or their agent.

The Act falls under the authority of the Minister of Police – and that tells us something about the incentive and premise of the Act.

A. Registration

  1. Every person who carries on a business dealing in second-hand goods2 must be registered with the National Commissioner of the SAPS. It is a criminal offence not to do so.3

  2. Registration must be obtained for each premises on which the goods are stored, or from which the goods are dealt in, and it is an offence to contravene this provision.4

  3. In the application for registration, it is necessary to supply ID photographs, and one’s name and address, and the trading name and address of the business. It is a criminal offence to furnish false information.5

  4. If the applicant is a corporation or trust, further information must be furnished – the registered number, management particulars, and so forth. It is an offence to furnish false information in this regard.6

  5. If a dealer stops trading or is unable to carry on business, he must immediately notify the National Commissioner. It is an offence if he fails to do so.7

  6. A dealer whose registration has terminated must immediately return all certificates. If the termination follows cancellation by the National Commissioner, a police official will serve a notice of cancellation, and in which case the certificates must be handed over to him. Contravention of these provisions is an offence.8

  7. Any dealer who continues to trade without having renewed his registration commits an offence.9

B. Certificates

  1. Upon registration, the National Commissioner will issue a certificate, authorising the dealer to carry on business. The certificate will specify the classes of goods, the premises, and any other conditions of the authorisation. It is a crime to contravene or fail to comply with the terms and conditions recorded in the certificate; and it is a crime to conduct business in a manner other than as specified on the certificate.10

  2. A dealer transferring his business must surrender his registration certificate to the National Commissioner upon the issue of a new certificate, and commits an offence if he fails to do so.11

  3. The original certificate must be displayed in a prominent place, clearly visible to the public on the premises for which the certificate has been issued. It is an offence not to do this.12

  4. The holder of a certificate commits an offence if he fails to notify the National Commissioner (in writing, within 30 days) of:
    • any change in the information that was submitted in respect of the application for registration;
    • a change in the control or ownership of the dealer;
    • any change that impacts on the ability of the dealer to meet the requirements for his registration.13
  5. The National Commissioner will issue an amended certificate, and upon receipt, the dealer must hand over all previous certificates. It is an offence not to do so.14

  6. It is a criminal offence to transfer the business to which a registration relates, other than to another registered dealer.15

  7. It is also an offence if you fail to maintain the certificate undamaged and in a legible condition.16

  8. If a certificate is lost (or stolen), the holder of the certificate must inform the National Commissioner within 30 days of the discovery of the loss or theft. He commits an offence if he fails to do so.17

  9. He also commits an offence if he fails to apply to the National Commissioner (within the same 30-day period) for a copy of the certificate. This also applies if the certificate is defaced.18

C. Records

The failure to comply with any of the following provision is a crime.

  1. A dealer must keep a register (or, if his certificate of registration requires, separate registers) in which certain particulars regarding every acquisition or disposal of second-hand goods is recorded.19

  2. Every such entry in the register must be made at the time of the acquisition or disposal in question.20

  3. A person acquiring second-hand goods from, or disposing of goods to, a dealer, must furnish his full name, physical address and an original identity document or passport.21

  4. The dealer must keep a copy of the identity document or passport.22

  5. The dealer must keep the register(s) and copies of the documents for a period of not less than five years.23

  6. A dealer dealing in second-hand communication equipment24 must record (in the prescribed register) the particulars regarding every acquisition or disposal of such equipment.25

  7. A person acquiring communication equipment from, or disposing it to a dealer, must furnish his full name, physical address, original identity document or passport as proof of his identity.26

  8. The dealer must obtain, and keep, a copy of the identity document or passport.27

  9. The dealer must retain the copies for a period of not less than five years.28

D. False information and stolen goods

  1. If a dealer suspects, or on reasonable grounds should suspect, that any name, address or document furnished to the dealer is false, he must immediately report it to the local police station and commits an offence if he does not do so.29

  2. If he likewise suspects, or should do, that goods offered to him are stolen goods, he must also report the matter to the local police station and commits an offence if he fails to do so.30

  3. If the dealer suspects that the appearance (or any aspect) of an item offered to him has been tampered with, or there was an attempt to do so in order to conceal the identity of the item, he must report the matter to the local police station and commits an offence if he does not.31

  4. It is an offence for the dealer to continue with the transaction to which any of the above suspicions relate.32

E. General

  1. It is an offence to acquire (or accept in pawn) goods from any person under the age of 18.33

  2. No goods may be stored elsewhere than on the premises for which a certificate has been issued in terms of the Act. It is an offence to do so.34

  3. As a dealer, it is a crime to take into your possession goods unless you are convinced, on reasonable grounds, that the seller is the owner, or is authorised to dispose of them.35

  4. Any dealer who delivers goods acquired by him to a person, before a period of seven days has lapsed from the date of acquisition, commits an offence.36

  5. It is also an offence for a dealer to change the form, or alter the appearance of any goods until the expiry of that seven-day period.37

  6. During the seven-day period, or during any period that any pawned goods are subject to a pledge, the articles must be kept separate from all other goods of the same or similar kind and description. It is an offence to breach this provision.38

  7. It is an offence to accept in pawn any firearms or ammunition.39 40

F. Motor vehicle records

  1. A second-hand motor vehicle dealer must keep a record (in the prescribed register) of the particulars relating to every acquisition or disposal of a motor vehicle, and commits an offence if he fails to do so.41

  2. Each person acquiring, or disposing of a motor vehicle must furnish the dealer with his full name, physical address, original identity document (or passport) and proof of registration or deregistration of the motor vehicle. It is an offence to fail to do so.42

  3. The dealer commits an offence if he does not obtain and keep a copy of the identity document (or passport) and proof of the vehicle’s registration or deregistration.43

  4. The dealer must retain the copies for a period of not less than five years and commits a crime if he does not do so.44

G. Recycling of metals

  1. Every dealer who recycles any controlled metal,45 must (additionally) be registered as a recycler. It is a crime to contravene this provision.46

  2. It is an offence to have in your possession any apparatus which can be used for recycling metal (or any article or substance containing any controlled metal) unless:
    • you are registered as a recycler;
    • in the case of precious metals, you are authorised to possess and recycle precious metals.47
  3. It is an offence to acquire, or dispose of any cable consisting of controlled metal of which the cover has been burnt, unless:
    • the seller is able to provide a reasonable explanation for the burnt cover; and
    • it has been reported to the local police station.48
  4. It is an offence even to be in possession of any cable consisting of controlled metal, of which the cover has been burnt, unless there is a reasonable explanation for the burnt cover.49

  5. If, as a recycler, you suspect (or, on reasonable grounds, should suspect) that the appearance or any aspect of any scrap metal offered to you has been tampered with (or there was an attempt to alter the appearance or aspects thereof) in order to conceal the identity of the scrap metal, you must report the matter to the local police station.50

H. Routine police inspections

  1. A police official may, during business hours, enter the premises of any registered dealer in order to investigate compliance with the Act. It is a crime, if requested, for the dealer, owner, manager or employee to refuse or fail to:
    • produce the dealer’s certificate of registration;
    • produce any register, record, book or other document (relating to the goods on the premises) for inspection, or for making copies or extracts;
    • produce any goods found on the premises for examination; or
    • explain any entry (or absence of any entry) in any register, book, record or document found on the premises.51
  2. The police official may demand immediate discontinuation of any method of dealing, recording or storage that contravenes the Act. The dealer commits an offence if he does not rectify the method in question within 7 days.52

  3. It is a crime if the dealer, owner, employee or person in charge of premises fails to assist the police official in the performance of his functions under the Act.53
  1. Act 6 of 2009. 

  2. This includes pawn brokers. A pawn broker is someone who lends money, on the security of goods left with him. 

  3. Section 2(1) read together with section 32(1). 

  4. Section 3(1) read together with section 32(1). 

  5. Section 4 read together with section 32(1). 

  6. Section 5 read together with section 32(1). 

  7. Section 10(2) read together with section 32(1). 

  8. Section 10(6) read together with section 32(1). 

  9. Section 11(1) read together with section 32(1). 

  10. Section 32(1). 

  11. Section 12 read together with section 32(1). 

  12. Section 15 read together with section 32(1). 

  13. Section 8(1) read together with section 32(1). 

  14. Section 8(4) read together with section 32(1). 

  15. Section 12(2) read together with section 32(1). 

  16. Section 15 read together with section 32(1). 

  17. Section 37(1) read together with section 32(1). 

  18. Section 37(2) read together with section 32(1). 

  19. Section 21(1) read together with section 32(1). 

  20. Section 21(7) read together with section 32(1). 

  21. Section 21(4) read together with section 32(1). 

  22. Section 21(5) read together with section 32(1). 

  23. Section 21(6) read together with section 32(1). 

  24. This means any wireless equipment with IMEI capable of using SIM, and includes cellphones, two-way radios, and their accessories. 

  25. Section 26(1) read together with section 32(1). 

  26. Section 26(3) read together with section 32(1). 

  27. Section 26(4) read together with section 32(1). 

  28. Section 26(5) read together with section 32(1). 

  29. Section 22(1) read together with section 32(1). 

  30. Section 22(1) read together with section 32(1). 

  31. Section 22(1) read together with section 32(1). 

  32. Section 22(3) read together with section 32(1). 

  33. Section 23(1) read together with section 32(1). 

  34. Section 23(1) read together with section 32(1). 

  35. Section 23(1) read together with section 32(1). 

  36. Section 23(1) read together with section 32(1). 

  37. Section 23(1) read together with section 32(1). 

  38. Section 23(2) read together with section 32(1). 

  39. As these are defined in the Firearms Control Act, 2000. 

  40. Section 23(1) read together with section 32(1). 

  41. Section 24(1) read together with section 32(1). 

  42. Section 24(3) read together with section 32(1). 

  43. Section 24(4) read together with section 32(1). 

  44. Section 24(5) read together with section 32(1). 

  45. According to Schedule 2 to the Act, these metals are copper, aluminium, zinc, chrome, lead, white metal, nickel, tungsten, tin, ferrovanadium, ferrosilicon, ferrochrome, brass, bronze, cobalt and precious metals as defined in the Precious Metals Act, 2005 (Act 27 of 2005), or any article consisting wholly or principally of any of those metals. The Act calls this a ‘controlled metal’. 

  46. Section 25(1) read together with section 32(1). 

  47. Section 25(4)(a) read together with section 32(1). 

  48. Section 25(4)(b) read together with section 32(1). 

  49. Section 25(4)(c) read together with section 32(1). 

  50. Section 25(5) read together with section 32(1). 

  51. Section 28(1) read together with section 32(1). 

  52. Section 28(2) read together with section 32(1). 

  53. Section 28(3) read together with section 32(1).