MAXIMUM PENALTY FOR ARSON OFFENDERS
In the light of the serious recent, intentionally-inflicted fire damage in the Western Cape, we, South African citizens request that Government reconsider the offence of Arson and its penalties in terms of the NATIONAL VELD AND FOREST FIRE ACT (NVFFA).
We believe that amendments to this legislation are necessary as a matter of urgency, given that a new trend in arson has arisen in South African, specifically intended to generate extensive damage to South African terrain and its wildlife, privately owned property and related commerce.
Arson, in any form also risks serious injury and loss of life to the general community and fire-fighters, as well as violates other constitutional rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights – South Africa’s supreme law.
Accordingly, in keeping with our rights and rights pertaining to our environment as South African Citizens, we request the following:
1. That in terms of the offence of Arson, and its legislated penalties, the National Veld and Forest Fire Act (NVFFA) be re-evaluated to account for the serious damage and violations related to:
· Environmental impact and destruction of important ecosystems
· Malicious damage to personal property
· Culpable homicide where death is associated with act of arson
· Injury to any person associated with act of arson
· Injury and death of wildlife in terms of Animal Protection Act
· Commercial impact: Tourism and regional industry
· Multiple human Rights Violations (Impact on commerce and employment as well as multiple other terms of Bill of Rights).
2. That a substantial penalty commensurate with the extent of damage be legislated for the serious offence of arson, in order to render this a sufficient deterrent for future potential offenders. We request that a minimum penalty of 30 (thirty) years imprisonment be considered for an offender found guilty of arson, and that the same penalty apply to person/s contracting another to commit the crime of arson.
3. We request that a legal task team be immediately appointed to investigate and review this situation, with a view to compiling appropriate amendments to the Act in terms of the above recommendations by the citizens of South Africa. We further request National, Provincial and Regional Government to issue a formal response to the Citizens of South Africa, by the latest 25 February 2017, inclusive of plans and timelines for the review and resolution of this matter. The format for this review will be National Newspapers, Sunday Times and Radio News reports available in every South African Province.
4. In the interim, we request that every effort be made to investigate alleged crimes of arson related to recent fires in the Western Cape and elsewhere in South Africa, and to charge those found guilty to the maximum possible extent of the current law, taking into account all the above factors and damage related costs as these apply. We, the citizens of South Africa assert our legal rights in terms of the Bill of Rights of this Country, in addition to other relevant legislation. We assert our rights to administrative action that is lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair with regard to the protection of innocent South Africans and our environment.
Caron Potocnik Contact the author of the petition
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