There's been a flurry of posting on SARFLY today on "breaking the law" when you fly model aircraft. Some comment was serious other, well, less serious.
The previous BLOG entry sketches the regulatory landscape. Here Burt gives a view on possible Police intervention.
It all seems pretty clear to me.
Not professing to be any legal expert my understanding would be that Section 20 (a) of the Criminal Procedure Act states that the Police would only be in a position to confiscate an object without a search warrant that is "betrokke is by die pleging van of op redelike gronde vermoed word betrokke te wees by die pleging of vermeende pleging van 'n misdryf".
The crime in this regard would either be as stipulated as part of our common law or an act. In order for an act to be enforced it must have a section that states which contravention of a section is considered to be an offence and will normally have a penalty classification.
SAMAA only has rules and regulations and failure to comply with these rules, or for that matter any club rule, is not a criminal offence. The worst they can do is suspending your membership after due process has been complied with.
In order for the police to confiscate an object as referred to above they will have to proof that you are committing a crime in terms of an Act or some Municipal Regulation. It is of further importance to note that the object would be confiscated for evidentiary value. One would presume that they will also have to arrest you, charge you criminally or at least issue you with a summons of some sort. The forfeiture of the object will then have to be by either a Police Officer or the Presiding Officer at the completion of your criminal trial. The mere confiscation of your plane without further legal action might open them up to some damage claim of sorts
Flying over a busy road or residential suburb would probably not be cause enough, hey I can think of at least three SAMAA certified clubs where pilots fly over National Roads, councils roads and some houses. Disturbing the peace also no good as most Municipal Ordinances stipulate what they would consider to be a nuisance to the Public.
At the end of the day we all apply common sense knowing that the planes we fly have the potential of causing damage and harm. Not long from now you could be seeing a notice placed up in the local park prohibiting the flying of model planes should your local Municipal Council promulgate such an ordinance. I suggest you check your local Municipal Regulations and if in future if any person do decide to confiscate your plane the least they should do is to inform you under what legal authority it is done and in breach of what legislation.
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