Category: Legal

‘n Duik op jou rekord?

A4bAngela, ‘n gewone middeljarige vrou met ‘n basiese salaris, bevind haar in ‘n moeilike situasie wat dalk kan veroorsaak dat sy nie in Desember saam met haar familie in Mauritius vakansie kan hou nie. Angela het gou gaan brood koop voordat haar tienerseun uit die skool kom. Toe sy uit haar motor klim, het die kwaai Kaapse wind veroorsaak dat haar motordeur teen die deur van die motor langs haar waai en ‘n groot duik laat. Wat moet Angela doen? Moet sy dit net ignoreer en op ‘n ander plek parkeer? Is dit nie wat baie mense sou doen nie?

In die saak van S v Mpho Vincent Mutobvu 2013 (2) SACR 366 (GNP), het mnr Mutobvu sy motor agteruit uit ‘n parkeerplek getrek toe hy die motor langs hom skraap. Hy het gedink daar was geen skade nie en het toe weggery. ‘n Veiligheidswag het egter gesien wat gebeur het en sy motor se registrasienommer neergeskryf. Die klaagster het mnr Mutobvu deur middel van die registrasienommer opgespoor en hom ingelig dat sy die saak aan die polisie gerapporteer het. Hy het haar voertuig ondersoek, toegegee dat hy skuldig was en aan haar R6 000 vir die herstelkoste betaal. Hulle het saam polisiestasie toe gegaan om die klag terug te trek. Hulle is ingelig dat mnr Mutobvu eers R500 moes betaal voordat die saak teruggetrek kon word. Mnr Mutobvu het die R500 betaal en aanvaar dat dit ‘n gewone boete is. Hy was onder die indruk dat die saak hiermee afgehandel is.

Kort na die ongeluk het mnr Mutobvu ‘n onderhoud gehad vir ‘n nuwe pos by ‘n mynmaatskappy. Hy is toe ingelig dat hy nie die werk kon kry nie vanweë sy kriminele rekord. Van watter kriminele rekord praat die mense? Hy het na die Kriminele Rekord Sentrum in Pretoria gegaan en is ingelig dat die R500 wat hy gemeen het ‘n boete was, eintlik ‘n skulderkenning was kragtens Artikel 57 van die Strafproseswet 51 van 1977. Hy het erken dat hy Artikel 61 (1) (a) van die Wet op Nasionale Padverkeer 93 van 1966 oortree het – versuim om te stop na ‘n ongeluk. Sy kriminele rekord sou eers na tien jaar uitgewis word. Mnr Mutobvu het toe aansoek gedoen om ‘n spesiale hersiening, want hy het gevoel dat hy nie die kriminele rekord verdien nie.

In S v Cedras 1992 (2) SACR 530C in 531j-532b is die volgende bevind ten opsigte van ‘n hof se benadering tot ‘n hersiening:

“In sulke gevalle moet die vraag altyd wees of daar oorwegings van billikheid en regverdige handelswyse is wat die hof verplig om in te gryp om ‘n moontlike mislukking van geregtigheid te voorkom. Daar moet bewyse voor die hof wees van die waarskynlikheid van sodanige onbillikheid, sou die hof nie tussenbeide tree nie. ’n Hof moet tevrede wees dat die skulderkenning waarskynlik foutief was en die beskuldigde of ‘n persoon wat namens hom ‘n eed aflê, moet ‘n bevredigende verduideliking gee van hoe dit gebeur het dat die skulderkenning verkeerdelik gemaak is. Goeie gronde moet aangevoer word vir kondonering van die fout wat gemaak is met die skulderkenning. Daar moet bevind word dat, as die aanklag tot ‘n verhoor sou lei, die beskuldigde ‘n waarskynlike verweer teen die aanklag sou hê en dat sy geagte skuldigbevinding of vonnis gevolglik waarskynlik nie in ooreenstemming met geregtigheid is nie.”

Mnr Mutobvu het gesê dat hy nie regsverteenwoordiging gehad het toe hy onwetend skuld erken het wat gelei het tot die kriminele rekord nie. Hy het ook gesê dat hy vir die skade betaal het en dat die klaagster aanvaar het dat die klag teruggetrek word. Die hof het verklaar dat “in alle omstandighede sal ek die betaling van die skulderkenningsboete en daaropvolgende skuldigbevinding en vonnis tersyde stel en beveel dat die boete aan die beskuldigde terugbetaal word”. Mnr Mutobvu se kriminele rekord is geskrap en die R500 is aan hom terugbetaal.

‘n Kriminele rekord is nie iets wat mens ligtelik moet opneem nie. Die eerste klag mag jou dalk nie in die tronk laat beland nie maar dit kan jou in baie ander ongemaklike situasies plaas. As Angela besluit om weg te ry van haar ongeluk kan sy ook ‘n kriminele rekord kry, en dit sou beteken geen Mauritius-vakansie vir haar nie. Geen persoon met ‘n kriminele rekord mag die land verlaat nie, want hy/sy word as ‘n gevaar beskou, en dit is dan byna onmoontlik om geskikte werk te vind. Iets so eenvoudig soos ‘n duik in ‘n motordeur kan jou hele lewe verander. My raad aan Angela sou wees om vir die eienaar van die voertuig te wag of ‘n nota te laat met haar versekeringsbesonderhede. Haar situasie is soos ‘n TV-lisensie: betaal dit, dis die regte ding om te doen!

Hierdie artikel bevat slegs algemene inligting en moenie gebruik of beskou word as professionele raad nie. Geen aanspreeklikheid word aanvaar vir enige foute of weglatings of vir enige verlies of skade weens vertroue op hierdie inligting nie. Raadpleeg altyd u finansiële raadgewer vir spesifieke en gedetailleerde advies.

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To sign or not to sign: Handwritten versus electronic signatures

A2blWe all know that a handwritten signature is legally binding on the party who made the signature. But what about an electronic signature? What is an electronic signature? Will a document be legally binding if signed electronically and not by hand? How easy is it to forge an electronic signature? Why should one consider using an electronic signature? 

What is an Electronic Signature or e-signature?

An e-signature is not an image of a scanned signature which is copied and pasted into a typed document.

E-signatures can be divided into three categories, being Digital Signatures, Digital Certificates and Advanced Electronic Signatures (AESs). All three of these types of signatures are very reliable. The requirements of your business will determine which one of the three to use. The rest of the article will convey information regarding AESs as they are the category of e-signatures recognised by South African Law whenever a signature is required. 

What are the benefits of using AESs?

Making a move to AESs can let things flow faster and smoother in your business while saving you time and money, and even the auditors will be happy because AESs leave an audit trail they can follow.

Once a business starts using AESs, there are certain costs which will be significantly reduced. Some of these costs are:

  • Printing expenses – the business as a whole will use less paper and ink.
  • Courier and postage – documents can be sent electronically via email.
  • Archiving and searching costs – documents can be stored in electronic format and searches can be done electronically when looking for a specific document, instead of filing and paging through piles of paper.

Shorter time delays in certain business processes (e.g. approving quotes for customers) can improve efficiency. AESs are significantly more secure than handwritten signatures due to them being almost impossible to forge, even with the help of powerful computers. The only circumstances where an AES is easily forgeable, is when the signer gives his/her private key out to someone. And finally, adopting AESs will result in your business being more environmentally friendly by saving paper and thus trees and other resources which are in limited supply. 

Why should I trust an AES instead of a handwritten signature?

Even when you are presented with an original document signed by hand, you can’t be 100% sure that it was actually signed by the right person or that the document hasn’t been tampered with, as a handwritten signature can be forged relatively easily. In contrast, AESs require that an accredited authority verify the signer’s identity in person before providing the signer with signing tools.

The electronic signing of a document involves two electronic keys: a private key and a public key. The private key is only known to the signer of the document and the recipient who wants to authenticate the signature. The recipient uses both the public and the private keys to confirm the identity of the signer and that the document was not altered in any way during the transmission process. 

Electronic Signatures and the Law

The laws of different countries have different requirements regarding the use of electronic signatures, which will influence which category of e-signature you will choose to use. AESs are recognised by South African Law as a reliable and valid form of signing legally binding documents for more than a decade already.

The biggest benefit of AESs is its low risk of forging and tampering with a document signed by an AES. Despite the fact that AESs offer better protection to users of documents than traditional handwritten signatures, and that the Law already recognises the validity of AESs, there are still those who are resistant to change. Resistance is often the result of ignorance and education about the benefits of AESs will go a long way to increase acceptance of this safer, cheaper and more convenient way of conducting business.

If you would like more information about this topic, feel free to contact us for professional assistance and advice. 

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. 

Reference List:

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POPI Act

A4bThe Protection of Personal Information Bill, which will soon become law and is commonly referred to as POPI, seeks to regulate the processing of personal information.It must be read with other relevant statutes such as:• ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS AND TRANSACTIONS Act 25 of 2002 (‘ECT’)
• PROMOTION OF ACCESS TO INFORMATION Act 2 of 2002 (‘PAIA’)
• REGULATION OF INTERCEPTION OF COMMUNICATIONS Act 70 of 2002 (‘RICA’)
• CONSUMER PROTECTION Act 68 of 2008 (‘CPA’)Personal information of both employees and clients is – given e-commerce and technology used in connecting businesses – becoming instantly accessible to third parties.

POPI aims to introduce certain protection principles to establish minimum requirements for the processing of personal information. There are eight information protection principles contained in chapter 3 of the Bill, namely:
Accountability; Processing limitation; Purpose specification; Further processing limitation; Information quality; Openness; Security safeguards; Data subject participation.

The intention is to promote transparency with regard to what information is collected and how it is to be processed. This might be the end of all those unsolicited sales calls and spam we receive on a daily basis.

Processing means broadly anything done with personal information, including collection, usage, storage, dissemination, modification or destruction (whether such processing is automated or not).
POPI compliance involves capturing the minimum required data, ensuring accuracy, and removing data that is no longer required. These measures are likely to improve the overall reliability of the organisation’s databases.

Compliance further demands identifying personal information and taking reasonable measures to protect the data, like tracking the workflow of client documents and ensuring that vital information is not misplaced or falls into the wrong hands.

The POPI Act is very much in line with similar legislation that exists in about 70 to 80 other countries, and South Africa is finally set to fall in line with international standards for the collection and handling of personal information.

The Act does not only protect the way in which information is used and/or re-used by the recipients of the information, but the party gathering the information also has the responsibility to ensure it is accurate, current and not misleading.

Personal Information may only be processed if voluntary, specific and informed consent is obtained.
An Information Protection Regulator will be appointed who will have broad powers and may consider the public interest as opposed to an individual’s rights to privacy.

There are, however, cases where POPI does not apply. Section 4 Exclusions include:
I. purely household or personal activity
II. sufficiently de-identified information
III. some state functions including criminal prosecutions, national security etc.
IV. journalism under a code of ethics
V. judiciary functions etc.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.

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