The initial Bill was published for comment in Government Gazette 29078 of 5 August 2006, as Bill B7-2009, then as Act 2 of 2010, effective on the commencement date of 2 August 2010, see GG 33232 of 27 May 2010 and GG 33438, Proc 40, 3 Aug 2010.
The Premier Soccer League (PSL) was among objectors to stringent provisions in an earlier version of the Safety at Sport and Recreational Events Bill.
The Bill formerly required emergency helicopters at big match events; a fully equipped ambulance for every 5000 spectators; 50 police officers per 1000 spectators; operations command at every game; itinerary of big games provided to the police six months in advance; turnstiles; and electronic spectator monitoring systems, such as closed-circuit television surveillance.
Bill toned down in Act
The Bill had also proposed for unruly fans to be banned from attending matches, criminalised racist and vulgar language at stadiums and the throwing of objects by aggrieved fans.
At the SA parliament sports portfolio committee, a PSL legal official said the earlier version of the Bill, which has been toned down dramatically, was unfeasible and enforcing its regulations would have cost soccer clubs millions.
The Act has done away with requirements for an emergency helicopter, an ambulance for every 5 000 spectators and 50 police officers per 1000 spectators, turnstiles, and spectator monitoring systems.
Events risk categories
The Act requires banning of rowdy spectators, for sports bodies to inform the police commissioner six months in advance about where big games will be held and which teams are likely to feature.
It also classifies a risk category for different match events, with big games falling under the “high risk” category that requires a more stringent security set-up.
The PSL said it was near impossible to identify and prohibit unruly fans from games. Stadiums are not owned by the soccer league, many did not have surveillance systems, and it could be unconstitutional to restrict freedom of movement, reported Cape Times in August 2009.
Public event disasters
The Act responds to the 2001 Ellis Park soccer disaster, and findings of the commission of enquiry into this event calling for a complete revamp on the way South Africans deal with public sports gatherings, and how the authorities must act.
The new legislation will lead to regulations that affect all bodies that stage events, whether local government institutions, controlling sports bodies or private sponsoring organisations.
The Act lays down a regime covering how they should deal with, and be responsible for, major sports and recreational events and provides an authority to register and allow any event to take place.
The result of the findings of Justice Ngoepe, who led the enquiry, has resulted in focus falling upon a multitude of areas that involve the staging of large crowd gatherings. The Act deals with such issues as security, crowd control, communications and access to stadia by vehicles and spectators. The legislation will apply to events staged throughout the country.
The Act provides for prohibitions, inspection regimes and a controlling body for accreditation of those involved in organising events. Whilst the sale of tickets, control of vehicular access, safety and security measures, the establishment of control centres and even insurance matters are all to be regulated in terms of the Act, the legislation remained a section 75 matter and did not require provincial debate.
The costs flowing from the proposed legislation will be borne by the two national departments, sports and recreation, and police, although the bill was proposed by the minister of sport and recreation alone and tabled as such.
The implications of the Act would be felt by a number of sections of commerce and a broad range of controlling sports bodies, security, and public event staging institutions, including big concerts, music festivals, and ‘raves’.
Events organisers intimidated
Orgainsers of a music ‘rave’ complained in September 2010 that they were being intimidated by the local authority, who had supported their nine previous events.
“They cited several Acts, such at the Public Gathering Act, which turned out to be not applicable to us, then cited the Safety at Sports and Rec Events Act, informing us a day before our event that we had to obtain a venue safety certificate from their officials”, said an organiser.
COMMENT; Event safety law query
Andy Robinson writes in 2013; What size of public events are provided for by the Safety at Sports and Recreation Act?
I have been reading up on it, and came across the article on your website. One of the things that I am having difficulty in interpreting is at what size event does the act come into effect.
For example, if a local tennis club scheduled a tournament where there were unlikely to be more than a few hundred people, would they be expected to comply with the “low risk” provisions of the act including notifying the police and so on?
Any comments would be welcome as I am not having much joy at getting information.