Ignorance of the Law




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  1. #1
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    Default Ignorance of the Law

    Ignorantia juris non excusat or ignorantia legis neminem excusat (Latin for "ignorance of the law excuses not" and "ignorance of law excuses no one" respectively) is a legal principle holding that a person who is unaware of a law may not escape liability for violating that law merely because one was unaware of its ...

    Ok - I fell foul of the law because I forgot "section 40(1) of the Nature Conservation Decree 9 of 1992 - Transkei Decree" and as stated above ignorance is no excuse.

    So for those of you who may have forgotten this one here's a heads-up that could save you considerable inconvenience and expense.
    This law refers to sections of land that extend inland 1km from the sea and that fall under the jurisdiction of Eastern Cape Nature. To enter these areas as we found out to our cost one need a permit.
    The problem is that unless you are familiar with section 40(1) you will not know that you are entering a permit only area - in our case no gate, no fence, no signboard - nothing identifies the area we entered. We were subsequently told that the locals remove all the signs ECN puts up.
    In fact even if you have section 40(1) at your fingertips in this area of the former Transkei you may not always even be able to see the sea 1km away!
    It's not as if we were driving off-road or illegally harvesting the ocean - attached is a screen grab of the area from tracks4Africa and our vehicles GPS showing what appears to us to be public roads near the Jacaranda wreck site.
    Our intention was to revisit the site of the wreck of the Jacaranda that we had last seen 15 years ago while walking the Wildcoast Meander hiking trail.
    Still a considerable distance from the coast we noticed 3 vehicles parked on the brow of a hill in the direction we were traveling so we headed off towards them to enquire if they were also looking for the wreck - imagine our surprise to be informed of our misdemeanor of being in the area without a permit and then being slapped with a summons and being read our rights. These guys were equipped with all the legal docs and gear. The cynic in me thinks "it's as if they were waiting for us"
    One guy whips out his portable GPS and records the exact position of my vehicle saying he's sure we are within 1km of the sea - which we obviously now where - perhaps though not when we first saw their vehicles on the hill.
    Our plea of innocence got us nowhere (see intro above ) pay an admission of guilt fine of R2500 or present your case in the Kentani magistrates court in January.

    Cutting a long story short - the officials were always very polite - the clerk of the court Kentani very helpful and the Director of Public Prosecutions : Mthatha generous in reducing the fine of these old pensioners to R1000 on appeal.
    I'll just have to put it down as an expensive exercise in geriatric education and a way to get my new criminal record entered into some date base that will undoubtedly outlive me.

    P.S. I have yet to find any map that identifies the permit only areas of the Wild Coast - can anybody help?



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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Ignorance of the Law

    You're a criminal. You should be locked up. Sis man.

    Now I wonder, when crossing the river at Kei mouth on the ferry and driving up rhe coast to the secluded hotels along the coast is that also regarded as permit areas and roads or not. Say I am not a guest at such a hotel but purely on a site seeing trip.
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  5. #3
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    Default Re: Ignorance of the Law

    Good to know, thanks.

    ...but I do get the feeling of an ambush on unsuspecting travelers though
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  7. #4
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    Default Re: Ignorance of the Law

    That was tough luck Mike. I am well aware of this law as are most regulars to the Wild Coast. Most of the time there are no officials to enforce this regulation, but I suspect that this was over the holiday season when they are usually out in full force. Nothing is worse than a law only enforced erratically.

    To the other Oldtimer this law does not apply to legitimate access roads, so using the ferry crossing and roads to get to Seagulls and Trenneries is not a problem. However I would advise all planning a 4x4 trip to the Wild Coast to apply for the required permit as it is indeed difficult to know where you are transgressing or not.

    For those seeking these permits the following will assist:
    The following are the contact details to apply for a vehicle (& trailer) to access the Wild Coast. Each vehicle driver needs to apply separately. It is a requirement that maps of the routes and the dates you wish to travel are included with the application. Also, note that PTO (permission to occupy) letters from owners are also required if staying in cottages.


    Southern Section (Amathole Region). Kei Mouth to Mbolompo Point


    Edwina Oates (Permit Admin)


    email address: [email protected]


    Address: Alderwood House, Palm Square Business Park
    Fax: 082 519 3200
    Tel: 043 707 4068


    Northern Section from Mbolombo Point to Port Edward


    Bongeka Mvakade (Permit Admin)


    email address: [email protected]


    Address: Not stated but in Mthatha
    Fax: 082 519 3200
    Tel: 047 531 1191
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  9. #5
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    Default Re: Ignorance of the Law

    I think you have rather been hard done by.

    Firstly no signs, and then you drove straight up to them in a friendly and innocent manner, the least they could do is say sorry sir, you need a permit to travel here, if you don't have one please leave or buy one at XYZ.

    Anyways, water under the bridge...thanks for sharing.
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  11. #6
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    Default Re: Ignorance of the Law

    Pity you did not research prior to going, it is widely published that you need a permit in that area, even if you search the forum you will come across many posts.

    http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...0wreck&tab=389

  12. #7
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    Default Re: Ignorance of the Law

    Apart from the 4x4 forum "widely published" where?

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  14. #8
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    Default Re: Ignorance of the Law

    Cops will always pressure and intimidate you into singing admision of guilt(criminal record once you sign). Do not sign it,call your lawyer and let them tell you what you must do. You will appear in court and have a chance to defend your actions.

    I'm not a lawyer but i believe the above case would have been thrown out,due to one simple fact that there was no signs showing to stay out and a good lawyer would have gotten you out of that one,but now you have a criminal record.

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  16. #9
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    Default Re: Ignorance of the Law

    Quote Originally Posted by Gonzo View Post
    .... now you have a criminal record.
    Does entering a protected area without a permit constitute a criminal offence?
    I would think not.
    "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity" - Martin Luther king Jr

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  18. #10
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    Default Re: Ignorance of the Law

    Quote Originally Posted by Gonzo View Post
    Cops will always pressure and intimidate you into singing admision of guilt(criminal record once you sign). Do not sign it,call your lawyer and let them tell you what you must do. You will appear in court and have a chance to defend your actions.

    I'm not a lawyer but i believe the above case would have been thrown out,due to one simple fact that there was no signs showing to stay out and a good lawyer would have gotten you out of that one,but now you have a criminal record.
    Hi Gonzo, you went a bit too gonzo with your reply.

    You don't get a criminal record by paying an admission of guilt fine. Instructing (and paying!) an attorney to represent you in court with numerous postponements and frustration and waiting and travelling time will cost tens of thousands of bucks, without a guarantee that you will not be found guilty by a grumpy magistrate and still have to pay the fine as well.

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  20. #11
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    Default Re: Ignorance of the Law

    Quote Originally Posted by Merwe Erasmus View Post
    Hi Gonzo, you went a bit too gonzo with your reply.

    You don't get a criminal record by paying an admission of guilt fine. Instructing (and paying!) an attorney to represent you in court with numerous postponements and frustration and waiting and travelling time will cost tens of thousands of bucks, without a guarantee that you will not be found guilty by a grumpy magistrate and still have to pay the fine as well.
    http://www.lssa.org.za/upload/files/...SSA%20AOGF.pdf

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  22. #12
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    Default Re: Ignorance of the Law

    Interpretation. Not all transgressions carry a criminal record. You can get found guilty in a court of a speeding fine and not get a criminal record.
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    Default Re: Ignorance of the Law

    I have been there about 5 times. Each time with a permit.

    Never needed to show the permit even once.

    You were unlucky but Im glad to see they are trying to patrol the area. They have the right to impound the vehicle so count yourself lucky.

  25. #14
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    Default Re: Ignorance of the Law

    My guess is your fine and everyone else's wont be used to replace gates, fences or signboards. Everything goes to salaries.

  26. #15
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    Default Re: Ignorance of the Law

    The title of this thread fits that LSSA brochure. Misleading information at best...

  27. #16
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    Default Re: Ignorance of the Law

    The only map I found this info on was the Slingby maps - they also warn that it is illegal to camp within 1 km of the coast except in designated campsites.

    My take is - typical third world mentality - if this super poor part of the country wants to chase tourists away they are doing a good job. It takes a lot of planning and money to travel to this s******e part of country. The scenery, sea and beaches may be beautiful but I wonder if it's worth the effort of possibly being killed, robbed, mugged and being fined for very frivolous reasons. The police or nature conservation should not be intimidating the tourists but protecting them from the real criminals who live in these areas.

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  29. #17
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    Default Re: Ignorance of the Law

    Quote Originally Posted by Wild Life View Post
    The only map I found this info on was the Slingby maps - they also warn that it is illegal to camp within 1 km of the coast except in designated campsites.

    My take is - typical third world mentality - if this super poor part of the country wants to chase tourists away they are doing a good job. It takes a lot of planning and money to travel to this s******e part of country. The scenery, sea and beaches may be beautiful but I wonder if it's worth the effort of possibly being killed, robbed, mugged and being fined for very frivolous reasons. The police or nature conservation should not be intimidating the tourists but protecting them from the real criminals who live in these areas.
    Except for the Slingsby maps portion of the post the rest is preposterous. There is no " third world mentality" here. What there is, is 1st world arrogance and prejudice and entitlement and a refusal to take note of the law which, in this instance probably originated from hordes of inlanders rocking up with 4x4s, quod bikes, scramblers, and them all driving or riding all over the place ( often over virgin grasslands where cattle graze) as if the whole Wild Coast is a playground for those who can afford to buy all this stuff and drive it.
    I am a regular visitor to the Wild Coast and am shocked by what I see inlanders do with vehicles, riding up pristine hills, through maize or sorghum fields, on narrow cattle tracks and the like, distubing the tranquil peace of the place will screaming srambler bikes and the like. The start of this thread made it very clear what you need to do, but instead you try to denigrate the measures and law enforcement procedures. If it were not for the terrible abuse of the environment and the disregard of the law, and rights if the people who live here permanently, none of this legislation my have been necessary. We all now what happened to those people who bribed the local chiefs with a bottle or case of Klippies so that they could build their shacks in the most pristine, ecologically sensitive areas. It is YOUR duty to find out what the law is, and then to abide by it, and if you dont know what the law is, and you have not got the permits you need, then just stay away.
    Oh, and by the way, going to these " super poor" parts of the country does absolutely nothing to uplift the locals economically, because everyone buys all their supplies in the cities and not at the small spaza shops, and the small shops and businesses, and bring all this stuff with them from the cities, so there is absolutely no befenfit to the locals in all these trips. Paying someone to wash some clothes or dishes for a few days, or to assist as a gilliie is not sustainable economic empowerment, as they lose the pittance which is usually paid to them the moment you leave.
    What we need at the Wild Coast is a total change in mindset from visitors from "1st world" environments and who leave the trash at the Wild Coast when they leave, not to mention the degradation of the environment they have caused.
    If you dont know what you can or cannot do, then it is up to you to find out before you do it, but dont just do ut and then plead ignorance or that you were " hard done by". The Wild Coast is still special because of the locals who have lived there for centuries and who have, by and large, preserved the place , and who live in a nature- sustaining way - ecept of course for those inlanders who arrive and buy buckets of crayfish, mussels and oysters from the locals, encouraging them to plunder those resources to non- sustainable levels out of desperation for some cash. It is the locals and their environment that need to be protected from the criminals who arrive in fancy vehicles and who think that they can just do what they want to when they are there - and not the other way round........

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  31. #18
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    Default Re: Ignorance of the Law

    @Wild Life, when you have a moment, stop, think and take stock of your post. I don't know you, but would hope you will be ashamed of what you posted.

    True lovers of nature appreciate that regulations are needed to save us from ourselves and our tendencies to ruin our natural habitat. The Wild Coast is very dear to my heart and it is sad to witness such a display of ignorance and prejudice. With the new coastal N2 highway being constructed these regulations will need to be applied even more strictly. This unique stretch of coast needs to be protected from buffoons that seem to think that "wild life" means behaving in an unruly and unregulated manner.

    I look forward to the day when state-assisted and regulated community campsites are established in this bitterly impoverished area. Decently regulated and demarcated 4x4 routes and access to the coast would open up tourism to the area as well. I would like to see this thread take a more constructive tone with thoughts and ideas on what could benefit the locals as far as tourism and a positive economic impact are concerned. As in the rest of Africa, only when there are direct economic benefits for the local population from conservation and tourism , will this area achieve its full potential as our most beautiful stretch of relatively unspoilt coastline.
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  33. #19
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    Default Re: Ignorance of the Law

    Quote Originally Posted by Wild Life View Post
    My take is - typical third world mentality - if this super poor part of the country wants to chase tourists away they are doing a good job. It takes a lot of planning and money to travel to this s******e part of country. The scenery, sea and beaches may be beautiful but I wonder if it's worth the effort of possibly being killed, robbed, mugged and being fined for very frivolous reasons. The police or nature conservation should not be intimidating the tourists but protecting them from the real criminals who live in these areas.
    Please don't come to our part of the country, if that is your attitude.

    If you ever watched the Imana Wild Ride (mountain bike), you will realise why the Transkei coastal region needs to be protected.
    It is arguably the most beautiful stretch of coast line in South Africa.
    If it is opened for everybody to drive uncontrolled wherever they want, it won't take long to destroy.
    "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity" - Martin Luther king Jr

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  35. #20
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    Default Re: Ignorance of the Law

    How much are these permits, how long do they last for and where exactly do they entitle you to drive?

    Is the permit tied to your vehicle number plate number?

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