Category Archives: Criminal Law

The risk of EFT fraud when selling a car

B1Electronic Funds Transfers, better known as EFTs, have become a popular payment method in South Africa, accepted by many in lieu of cash or cheque payments. This allows buyers to reverse payments and essentially fraud sellers into thinking that they’ve been paid.

Many accept the printed EFT document as “proof” of a cash payment into the bank account, especially in the selling and buying of motor vehicles. They insist on the transfer to be made immediately there and then, after which the vehicle is transferred and registered to the buyer on the same day.

How do EFTs get abused?

The abuse of EFTs made to the seller’s bank account, especially between different financial entities, is yet another devious manner in which the original Natis documentation or registration of ownership of a motor vehicle can be obtained with no intention to honour the actual payment.

EFTs are governed by agreements between the various financial entities. Depending on the agreement, an EFT transaction can take up to two days to actually reflect as a deposit on the statement of the seller. The risk of accepting proof of an EFT as “proof” of actual payment as if it was a cash deposit, puts the seller at a real risk of being defrauded.

Most ordinary citizens do not know that an EFT can be reversed within a few hours after it has been made, depending on the individual financial institute at which the account is held. Devious fraudsters who are know the mechanics of the law and the financial systems in South Africa, use this knowledge to the detriment of others.

How to make payments more secure

In the sale of a motor vehicle, or any other object of which ownership is registered on the eNatis system, the Natis registration document is a very useful instrument to secure and verify payment prior to the transfer of registered ownership.

The easiest safeguard against any risk of loss because of non-payment, is the current, valid and original Natis document, reflecting the registered owner and titleholder of a vehicle.

For as long as the seller of the vehicle retains the possession of the original Natis document reflecting the seller as the registered owner, no fraudster or any other person can obtain registered ownership of the vehicle, unless the seller physically enables them to do so. Once payment actually reflects on the bank statement the necessary documentation should be handed over to effect transfer of registration to the purchaser or his nominee.

Should a seller hand the original Natis registration documents over prior to actual confirmation of payment, the vehicle can be traded and registered to any innocent third party, while the seller still waits for payment.

As no party to an agreement can transfer more rights than they are legally entitled to at that time, the seller will be able to claim the motor vehicle from any person who has such motor vehicle in his/her possession, even if the possessor at that stage has “purchased and paid” the vehicle.  As long as the motor vehicle has not been transferred and registered to a purchaser who has not paid for same, the seller can safeguard themselves in such a fraudulent transaction.

What happens if I’ve been defrauded?

In the event of the payment not coming through, your rights as seller can be enforced by means of a very simple but highly effective application to a court, which can be done with an interim relief order to return the vehicle by the Sheriff of the Court to the registered owner of the car at a date on which service is to be effected on the purchaser. After that, the normal motion procedure is followed. It is also recommended to issue a summons for the cancellation of the agreement, return of the vehicle, cost and interest simultaneously.

For as long as the seller retains and holds on to the original Natis documents on which he/she is reflected as the registered owner of the motor vehicle, the seller will have a definite right to be the entitled possessor of the motor vehicle.

A seller who has already caused registration of the vehicle to be transferred to the purchaser prior to having the payment secured, is left in a risky position. The seller has very little hope of success against such a buyer with the intention to defraud. A litigation process can be prolonged and costly with no guarantee of recovery of the loss.

For further reading, see Unitrans Automotive (Pty) Ltd vs Trustees of the Rally Motors Trust 2011 (4) SA 35, just one of the transactions during a shopping spree of fraudulent transactions using EFTs by a fraudulent purchaser, and other matters referred to in the judgement.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE).

Bail or not

A1People are often outraged when they hear of accused persons who have been released on bail. In this article the factors to be considered when deciding whether someone should be let out on bail or not will be discussed. This will allow us to better understand why someone has been released on bail or why they have not.

According to section 35(1)(f) of the Constitution[1] everyone who is arrested for allegedly committing an offence has the right to be released from detention if the interests of justice permit, subject to reasonable conditions. This provision sets out that the law cannot take away an innocent person’s freedom arbitrarily but recognises that in certain circumstances it may be in the interests of justice to take away or limit this freedom.[2]

The next question that arises is how we know when the refusal to grant bail is in the interests of justice. According to section 60(4) of the Criminal Procedure Act[3] (CPA) the interests of justice do not permit the release from detention of an accused where one or more of the following grounds are established:

  1. Where there is the likelihood that the accused, if released on bail, will endanger the safety of the public or any particular person or will commit certain offences;
  2. Where there is the likelihood that the accused, if released on bail, will attempt to evade trial;
  3. Where there is the likelihood that the accused, if released on bail, will attempt to influence, intimidate or conceal witnesses or destroy evidence;
  4. Where there is the likelihood that the accused, if released on bail, will undermine or jeopardise the objectives or the proper functioning of the criminal justice system, including the bail system;
  5. Where there is the likelihood that the release of the accused will disturb the public order or undermine the public peace or security.[4]

In considering whether the grounds in (a) to (e) above have been established various factors, which are set out in Sections 5 – 9 of the CPA, may be taken into consideration, which include the following:

  • the degree of violence towards others implicit in the charge;
  • the accused’s ties to the place at which he or she is to be tried;
  • assets and travel documents held by the accused;
  • the accused’s relationship with the witnesses and the extent to which they could be influenced;
  • whether the accused supplied false information during his or her arrest or bail proceedings;
  • any previous failure to comply with bail conditions or indications that he or she will not comply with any bail condition;
  • whether the nature of the offence or the circumstances under which the offence was committed is likely to induce a sense of shock or outrage in the community; and
  • whether the shock or outrage of the community might lead to public disorder if the accused is released.[5]

The court decides whether the accused should be let out on bail by weighing the interests of justice against the right of the accused to his or her personal freedom and in particular the prejudice he or she is likely to suffer if he or she were to be detained in custody, and must take into account, inter alia, the period for which the accused has been in custody; the probable period of detention until the end of the trial if bail is not granted; the reason for any delay in the trial and any fault on the part of the accused; any impediment to the preparation of the accused’s defence due to the detention of the accused, and the accused’s state of health.[6]

When dealing with Schedule 5 and 6 offences the accused will be detained in custody unless the accused can show the court that it is in the interests of justice or that exceptional circumstances exist which permit his or her release, respectively. [7]

We can see from this article that the court must weigh up many factors against each other and although we do not always understand why accused persons are released on bail, anyone would want a fair bail application if they found themselves in that same position.

Bibliography:

  • The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996
  • J Chaskalson & Y De Jong – Criminal (In)Justice in South Africa, 2009:86
  • The Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977

[1] The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996.

[2] J Chaskalson & Y De Jong – Criminal (In)Justice in South Africa, 2009:86.

[3] Section 60(4) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977.

[4] Section 60(4) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977.

[5] Section 60(5-9) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977.

[6] Section 60(10) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977.

[7] Section 60(11-12) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Can somebody take the law into his/her own hands?

A2The mandament van spolie is a summary remedy, usually issued upon urgent application, aimed at restoring control of property to the applicant from whom it was taken through unlawful self-help, without investigating the merits of the parties’ rights to control.

From the definition above it is evident that this remedy is unique, because it is not used to protect rights at all. The mandament van spolie is a unique remedy aimed at undoing the results of the taking of property by means of self-help. The idea is that people should enforce and protect their property rights by legal means and procedure, and not by self-help and force, because self-help eventually results in chaos and anarchy. For this reason it is usually said that this remedy is based upon the principle that nobody is allowed to take the law into his/her own hands. Due to its aim of restoring peace and order and discouraging self-help, the spoliation remedy does not investigate the merits of any of the parties’ interest in the property and neither of the parties is allowed to raise the question of rights. The court is simply concerned with the factual investigation, namely whether there is proof of existing control and proof of unlawful spoliation of that control. If there was in fact existing control and unlawful spoliation the court will order the spoliator to restore the spoliated control to the applicant immediately, regardless of whether that control was in fact unlawful or even legal.

The spoliation remedy is aimed at preserving peace and order in the community. People cannot be permitted to circumvent the remedy by contract. Parties to a contract cannot agree that one of them will be permitted to take property from the other without proper legal procedure. The requirements for this remedy were set out in two classic decisions that are still the most important authorities in this regard, namely Nino Bonino v De Lange 1906(T) and Yeko v Qana 1973(A).

  1. Proof that the applicant was in peaceful and undisturbed control of the property. The first requirement means that the applicant had control over the property in question. For purposes of the spoliation remedy this control must have existed “peacefully and undisturbed” for a period long enough, and in a manner stable enough, to qualify any unlawful disturbance of the peace. The requirement that the control must have been peaceful and undisturbed does not refer to its legal merits, but simply to the fact that it must have been relatively stable and enduring. If not, there can hardly be a question of disturbance of the situation.
  1. Proof that the respondent took or destroyed that control by means of unlawful self-help or spoliation. The second requirement for the spoliation remedy is that the existing peaceful and undisturbed control must have been unlawfully spoliated by the respondent.

One can, therefore, safely say that possession is 90% of the law. The reason for this is that spoliation is not permitted in our law. The person must use the legal processes at his disposal and cannot take the law into his own hands.

References:

A J van der Walt & G J Pienaar: Introduction to property law, 5th edition, pg 218-223.

 This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice.

Is uitlewering die enigste antwoord?

article-4-SeptemberDit was ‘n storie wat die wêreld geskok het: ‘n vrou word wreed vermoor op haar wittebrood, en ‘n man op soek na antwoorde in ‘n vreemde land, totdat dit na vore gekom het dat hy die konkelaar was in sy vrou se moord.

Shrien Dewani word daarvan verdink dat hy die moord op sy vrou Anni, 28, beplan het. Sy is geskiet toe die paartjie in November 2010 in ‘n taxi in die buitewyke van Kaapstad gereis het. Tot op hede is drie mans skuldig bevind aan Anni se dood. Verlede jaar is die Suid-Afrikaner Xolile Mngeni skuldig bevind aan moord en tot  lewenslange tronkstraf gevonnis. Hy beweer dat hy as ‘n sluipmoordenaar deur Dewani gehuur was om sy vrou dood te maak, iets wat Dewani konsekwent ontken. Taxibestuurder Zola Tongo is 18 jaar gevangenisstraf opgelê vir sy rol in die moord. Nog ‘n medepligtige, Mziwamadoda Qwabe, het ook skuldig gepleit op die moord en is tot  25 jaar gevangenisstraf gevonnis. Howard Riddle, die Hooflanddros van die Westminster-landdroshof in sentraal-Londen, het in 2011 beslis dat Dewani uitgelewer moet word, maar dit is suksesvol geappelleer en die landdros is beveel om weer te kyk na die saak.

Op Woensdag, 24 Julie 2013, het die Westminster-landdroshof besluit om Dewani aan Suid-Afrika uit te lewer om tereg te staan ​​op die moord van sy vrou, Anni. Dewani se prokureurs beplan egter om hierdie besluit te appelleer, terwyl Dewani in die Verenigde Koninkryk aanbly. Dewani ly na berig word aan post-traumatiese stresversteuring (PTSV) en depressie sedert sy vrou se dood.

Sy prokureurs is beslis dat hy sal terugkeer na Suid-Afrika as sy gesondheid dit  toelaat en wanneer toepaslike beskerming  in plek is vir sy gesondheid en veiligheid.

Waaroor gaan uitlewering?

Uitlewering is die oorgawe van ‘n beweerde oortreder of voortvlugtige aan die staat/land  in wie se gebied die beweerde misdryf gepleeg is. Waarom neem dit dan so lank vir Dewani om weer voet aan wal te sit in Suid-Afrika?

Die Suider-Afrikaanse Ontwikkelingsgemeenskap se protokol oor uitlewering bepaal dat uitleweringsmisdaad oortredings is wat strafbaar is onder die wette van albei staatpartye met gevangenisstraf of ander ontneming van vryheid vir ‘n tydperk van ten minste een jaar, of deur ‘n meer ernstige straf. Indien die versoek om uitlewering verband hou met ‘n persoon wat gesoek word vir die handhawing van ‘n vonnis van gevangenisstraf of ander ontneming van vryheid wat opgelê is vir sodanige oortreding, kan die uitlewering geweier word indien ‘n tydperk van minder as ses maande van die vonnis oorbly.

‘n Misdryf is uitlewerbaar ongeag of die optrede waarop die versoekende staat se versoek berus, plaasgevind het in die gebied waaroor dit regsbevoegdheid het. Sou die wet van die versoekte staat egter nie voorsiening maak vir jurisdiksie oor ‘n misdryf in soortgelyke omstandighede nie, kan die versoekte staat na goeddunke uitlewering op hierdie gronde weier.

Die uitleweringsproses

Wanneer kennis gegee word dat uitlewering toegestaan is sal die staatpartye sonder onbehoorlike vertraging reël vir die oorgawe van die persoon wat gesoek word en moet die versoekte staat die versoekende staat in kennis stel van die tydperk wat die persoon wat gesoek word, aangehou is met die oog op oorgawe. Die persoon moet uit die gebied van die versoekte staat verwyder word binne ‘n redelike tydperk soos deur die versoekte staat bepaal en, indien die persoon nie binne hierdie tydperk verwyder word nie, kan die versoekte staat die persoon vrylaat en weier om daardie persoon vir dieselfde oortreding uit te lewer.

Indien omstandighede buite sy beheer verhoed dat enigeen van die staatpartye die persoon wat uitgelewer moet word, oorgee of verwyder, moet dit die ander staatparty in kennis stel. Die twee staatpartye moet dan onderling besluit op ‘n nuwe datum van oorgawe.

Die versoekte staat kan, nadat ‘n besluit oor die versoek om uitlewering geneem is, die oorgawe van ‘n persoon wat gesoek word uitstel ten einde die persoon te vervolg of, indien die persoon reeds skuldig bevind is, ten einde ‘n vonnis toe te pas wat opgelê is vir ‘n misdryf anders as dié waarvoor uitlewering versoek is. In so ‘n geval moet die versoekte staat die versoekende staat ooreenkomstig in kennis stel.

Die versoekte staat mag, in plaas daarvan om oorgawe uit te stel, die persoon wat gesoek word tydelik aan die versoekende staat oorgee in ooreenstemming met voorwaardes waartoe die staatpartye ooreengekom het.

Gevolgtrekking

‘n Mens kan die gevolgtrekking maak dat uitlewering ‘n goeie en noodsaaklike remedie is. As jy ‘n misdryf in ‘n spesifieke land pleeg, moet jy aanspreeklik wees vir die oortreding en boet volgens die reëls van die land waar die misdryf gepleeg is. ‘n Mens kan nie net weghardloop van jou sondes nie. Dewani moet aanvaar dat die misdaad wat hy gepleeg het in Suid-Afrika plaasgevind het en dat dit is waar sy verhoor moet voortgaan.

Hoewel sy prokureurs aanvoer dat sy depressie en geestelike gesondheid in Suid-Afrika kan versleg, het ons land ten volle gekwalifiseerde dokters, wat enige siekte wat hy dalk het, kan behandel. Die uitlewering moet voortgaan sonder enige appèlle sodat sy vermoorde vrou se familie vrede kan vind en die versekering kan hê dat geregtigheid in ons land geskied het.

Hierdie is ‘n algemene inligtingstuk en moet gevolglik nie as regs- of ander professionele advies benut word nie. Geen aanspreeklikheid kan aanvaar word vir enige foute of weglatings of enige skade of verlies wat volg uit die gebruik van enige inligting hierin vervat nie. Kontak altyd u regsadviseur vir spesifieke en toegepaste advies.

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