THE NEW Second-Hand Goods Act comes into effect from today, and businesses who deal in used goods are worried it will cost them customers as it requires buyers to provide personal details.
Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Michael Bagraim said the law, aimed at regulating dealers of second-hand goods, was too complicated and badly written to be easily understood and complied with. “I’m a lawyer and I found myself sitting there, reading through it and wanting to pull my hair out,” he said.
“It must be presented in an understandable fashion before business owners will accept it… Dealers can’t be expected to take a week off to study and come to grips with the act.”
In March, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa described the act as “an important tool in the effort to clamp down on stolen goods“.
A groundbreaking provision in the act is that the possession of a stolen item will be considered as an equal offence to having stolen the item in the first place.
But second-hand dealers in Cape Town’s CBD have reacted with panic to a recent briefing by the police that outlined the provisions of the new act.
The most contentious requirement is that a person acquiring goods from a dealer will have to provide their address, full name and a copy of their ID.
“The police’s presentation left those in attendance with more questions than answers,” said Okkie Huyser, who owns a shop in the Long Street Antique Arcade.
“My main clientele are foreign tourists, and as I understand it, I will now have to ask them for copies of their passports and residential details before they can buy anything. With the threat of identity fraud, very few people will be willing to do this. The result is either fewer sales, which will be the downfall of my business, or sales which are technically illegal.”
Cash Crusaders chief executive officer Sean Stegmann, who was intimately involved in the conceptualisation of the new act, however, allayed these fears by explaining that the new act made considerable provisions for self regulation of the industry.
“The previous act (Second-Hand Goods Act of 1955) saw regulatory powers fall squarely with the SAPS,” he explained. “Under the new act, dealers’ associations can be registered and petition the authorities to be exempt from certain constraints of the act.”
Stegmann said Cash Crusaders and Cash Converters, the biggest stakeholders in the trade of second-hand goods in SA, had formed a new association especially for this reason.
“Admittedly, the provisions of the act as they stand could be stifling to a number of industries, but if the associations follow the rules, register and argue their cases well, there shouldn’t be a problem.”
Stegmann said a 90-day grace period would come into effect tomorrow, giving associations time to apply for exemptions.