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National Veld and Forest Fire Bill Sent to National House

January 12, 2022

Parliament

The National Veld and Forest Fire Amendment Bill has been referred to the National House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders.

The bill was tabled in parliament in December 2021.

The forestry, fisheries and the environment department published the bill’s explanatory summary in Government Gazette 45449 in November 2021.

The explanatory summary indicated that uncontrolled veldfires are responsible for environmental degradation, loss of jobs, displacement of communities, and general destruction of infrastructure, livestock, habitat and biodiversity.

Cabinet approved the proposed legislation at the end of September 2021 for tabling in parliament.

According to the cabinet statement, the bill was first submitted to parliament in 2017 but was sent back for further consultation with the public.

Cabinet highlighted that, among other provisions, the bill establishes structures in the public sector and at community level that will work together to mitigate veldfire risks and promote effective compliance and law enforcement.

The bill aims to amend the National Veld and Forest Fire Act, 1998, so as to:

• amend and insert certain definitions;
• provide for the facilitation of the formation of fire protection associations by a municipality or a traditional council;
• compel a municipality, state-owned enterprise, public entity or other organ of state which owns land to join the fire protection associations;
• extend the powers of entry, search, seizure and arrest to peace officers and traditional leaders;
• amend the title of the Act to the National Veldfire Act; and
• provide for matter connected therewith.

The National House has 60 days from the date of referral to make comments on the bill.