Unlawful Entry on Premises Bill promising, needs further consideration

Agri SA has submitted its comments on the Unlawful Entry on Premises Bill. The legislation provides an important mechanism for giving effect to the Constitutional duty that rests on the South African Police Services to prevent, combat, and investigate crime. However, there remain important concerns about the Bill that must be addressed to make it effective and ensure it protects the rights and safety of property owners. 

The Bill has the potential to address some key problems experienced under the current application of the law and as a result of poor police action in cases of the unlawful entering of premises. It allows, for example, for the arrest of trespassers even if they have already erected structures on a property and are occupying such structures. This is an important provision to combat the growing threat of illegal occupation of farmland and the resultant threat to food security that it poses.  

While the Bill is a good initiative in this sense, work still needs to be done. Agri SA has raised its concern about the Bill’s requirement that a landowner approach unlawful trespassers and request them to vacate the premises. This requirement could result in direct conflict and, considering the high rate of violent crime in South Africa, it is unconscionable to expect a lawful occupier to put themselves in a potentially life-threatening situation.  

Agri SA has also flagged an important loophole in the Bill. If an intruder complies with a landowner’s request to leave a property, he cannot be charged for contravention of the Bill. It is Agri SA’s view that the instant that the trespasser enters private property he has broken the law and should be arrested and charged accordingly. 

“South African farmers face multiple challenges related to land ownership, including the Expropriation Bill which will shortly proceed to the National Assembly for debate. Our members are increasingly encountering trespassers on their properties with little support from the police. The effect is that this trespassing frequently escalates to the unlawful occupation of land and buildings, leading to costly and time-consuming eviction proceedings. If these remaining challenges can be ironed out, this Bill will assist in curbing unlawful entry on farmers’ premises, but we will also need effective policing to enforce this crucial protection,” said Uys van der Westhuijzen,


Kobus Visser

Director: Agri SA Rural Safety & Provincial Affairs 

(C) 082 388 0010 

 Uys van der Westhuijzen

Chair of Agri SA’s Centre of Excellence: Rural Safety 

(C) 083 321 9356