Stick to the road with Hennie

By Alwyn Viljoen

Proudly sponsored by Toyota

The law, lift clubs, umalume and transporting farm workers

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

“We should just hire a hunter with one of those thermal scopes to wait for the buggers.”

This from Sibusiso, who drove a desk at the Department of Transport before taking up sheep farming. He soon learned this also meant taking shifts on the night watch to guard against stock thieves with the community policing forum.

Sibusiso’s second surprise was that we also stopped passenger cars. His jaw dropped when he learned just how many sheep can fit into a hatchback. I told him how in 2012, Vryheid’s stock theft unit stopped three men in a Ford Fiesta with ten goat carcasses in the car. As for sedans, twice now police have arrested men with 14 dead sheep in the car.

Toddlers don’t count

“If you think that is a lot, go count at my daughter’s school how many pupils the umalume can squeeze into an eleven-seater Quantum,” Sibusiso said.

As we sat under the full moon waiting for thieves, he explained how Regulation 250 of the National Road Traffic Act, 1996 (Act 93 of 1996) prohibits transporting people in the goods compartment of a vehicle only if it is done “for reward”.

On top of this, Sibusiso said, the Act doesn’t count your children as individual people. Instead, a toddler younger than three years is simply not counted; a child between three and six counts as half a passenger; and it takes three children aged between six and 13 years to make up two passengers.

This means a driver can legally carry as many toddlers as can be squeezed into a vehicle, or two five-year-olds on each seat.

The only limit for bakkies

Not having children at school, I was more interested in what the law had to say about transporting workers on the back of a bakkie, something we do every day.

Sibusiso said Regulation 247 of the National Road Traffic Act applied, but the regulation only stipulated the enclosures to keep people safe on the back of a bakkie.

“The only limits to how many people you can load on the back of a bakkie are firstly that their combined weight may not exceed the gross vehicle mass rating on a public road and secondly, there must be enclosures.”

He explained if the passengers are seated, Regulation 247 requires a 35cm enclosure from the height of the surface on which the passengers are sitting, or a 90cm enclosure for standing passengers, while any goods and tools must be separated from the passengers by a barrier. The enclosures must also be strong enough to prevent passengers or goods from falling off the vehicle while it is in motion.

Permits for professionals

“Transporting people to work is not considered as transporting for reward, so people in lift clubs or farmers don’t need any permits to transport workers. And if no more than 12 people are being transported, the driver doesn’t even need a professional driver’s permit, or PrDP.”

But if the driver does get rewarded for driving, he or she must have a permit from the National Land Transport Act, 2009 (Act 5 of 2009), a tax number, as well as the PrDP.

Regardless of whether they get rewarded for driving or not, Sibusiso explained, drivers of the following vehicles must have a licence card, endorsed with the applicable PrDP, for codes C1, C, EC1 or EC:

  • Any vehicle transporting more than 12 people, including the driver, regardless of whether it has enough seats and regardless of its weight.
  • Any vehicle that transports passengers for payment, except ambulances.
  • Any vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of over 3 500kg.
  • A bus or minibus seating more than 12 passengers, including the driver.
  • All tow-in vehicles.

“We have many laws governing transport, all of which chase revenue through permits or fines, instead of safer driving. It is a modern form of tolling roads, which is as old a profession as stock theft.”

Read more about service plans.

Toyota logo. Toyota help met karkoop