The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has announced that it will be implementing a monetary penalty system against those who transgress applicable civil aviation regulations. This new system, which becomes effective today is spelled out in Part 185.00.3 of the Civil Aviation Regulations.
“This new regulation is a huge leap forward and will certainly assist the SACAA in ensuring compliance with applicable regulations, while it simultaneously allows for greater flexibility in imposing various penalties on transgressors,” says Ntheri Magoai, head of the SACAA’s legal division. “In a nutshell, SACAA inspectors and/or authorised officers will now be able to impose monetary penalties for infractions listed in Part 185.00.1. Such infractions include, among others, the obstruction of authorised SACAA officers in performing their duties, flying illegally, falsifying records, as well as the general contravention of the Civil Aviation Act,” he said.
The new system does not replace but rather augments existing punitive measures. “A few years ago we identified a gap in our regulations, with particular reference to the applicable punitive measures. Whilst our regulations are watertight in terms of dealing with severe contraventions, they also left a gap in terms of dealing with minor contraventions that did not pose any serious safety risks. So, instead of just warning and letting culprits walk away unpunished for minor contraventions, we now have in place a comprehensive system that can deter rampant disregard of all civil aviation regulations,” explained Magoai.
He further added that rules alone without any form of punishment become meaningless in the eyes of perpetrators. The fines range between R5000 and R20 000 for individuals and between R16 000 and R53 000 for organisations.
“Even though our officers can issue a fine on the spot, we have also put mechanisms in place to discourage callous and over-zealous implementation or abuse of this new system. For instance, all fines are centralised and can only be enforced once sanctioned by the relevant SACAA senior executive. This is after all internal checks and balances have been applied. Moreover, offenders will also be granted a platform to defend themselves against the alleged contravention. It is only after this and robust internal deliberations that a guilty or not guilty verdict can be pronounced. If the culprit is guilty, a SACAA Law Enforcement Officer will then issue the offender with a notice stating the contravention and the penalty imposed” Magoai noted.