Committee debates weather bill

2012-02-14 18:02

Cape Town - A clause should be added into the draft SA Weather Service amendment bill to review the legitimacy of cases against offenders, Parliament's environmental affairs portfolio committee heard on Tuesday.

"We should look at including the National Director of Public Prosecutions and provincial directors as a protection for [Section 30A] clause 1a and 1b," chairperson Johnny de Lange said.

Allowing these parties to review offences would protect innocent people and stop abuse of potentially open-ended wording.

He said that clause 1b, which prohibited the publishing, distribution or supply of false or misleading information about the weather service, could be used to intimidate people.

It could theoretically criminalise competitive advertising in a commercial sector.

Enviromental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said the bill was never intended to criminalise minor issues, but rather "issues of national importance".

The committee was deliberating on comments made during public hearings in January.

De Lange brought forward a proposal on Tuesday for re-wording certain clauses.

The original draft stated that no one could issue a severe weather warning without the necessary written permission from the weather service.

This clause caused an uproar from various weather businesses and related parties who called it unconstitutional.

Section 30A, clause one, now stated that no person could publish, disseminate or distribute in any manner whatsoever any weather-related information, including a severe weather-related warning which consists of a potential, imminent or existing threat of dangerous weather conditions.

The proposal would add a condition that the person believed, or ought to have reasonably known or suspected, that the information was false or misleading.

Another condition would be that the warning incited or could incite public reaction and lead to undue mobilisation of resources, public alarm, evacuations or economic loss.

The committee was tasked with deliberating on whether the department or weather service was more equipped to issue air pollution warnings.

A draft clause tasked the weather service with this function, but De Lange cautioned that the body may not have the savvy to issue warnings in a way that would protect economic interests.

He said the department may be better placed for this function as it had an existing relationship with the manufacturing industry and others.

Some committee members warned that urgent air pollution warnings would not reach intended audiences in time if they first had to go through the department.

The committee would meet again after studying all proposed changes.

  • Vegi - 2012-02-14 18:34

    This is a very crucial peace of legislation. There is no need to insert any protection clauses. Anyone found dabbling in weather predicting should be arrested and imprisoned without bail. Only South African Weather Service should predict weather. There is a tendency by a certain section of our population to pretend to know everything even without qualifications. You will find them posing as technicians, mechanics, etc though a person has only finished primary school. In fact it should be a criminal offence to give an opinion on a field where one does not have a qualification. A person should be imprisoned for at least five years without parole.

      Abongile Mbauli - 2012-02-14 19:13

      Wait. . .are you serious? I can't tell, my sarcassimeter is busted.

      colin.dovey - 2012-02-14 19:16

      I agree @Vegi - include your opinion....and 5 years without parole....what rubbish!

      Vegi - 2012-02-14 19:17


      Johnnie - 2012-02-14 20:20

      That is the spirit-if they start making all the predictions, lock them up and we must start with the Sangomas and Inyangas who predict all their nonsense.

      Johnnie - 2012-02-14 20:21

      Especially the Sangomas and Inyangas.

      Eric Schollar - 2012-02-14 21:00

      Mind you, if the legislation shuts up the UN eco-loonies, big green and Al Gore, I'm all for it. Alarmist freaking out about 'global warming' and making wild predictions about the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it is pretty reprensible!

  • ISO - 2012-02-14 19:08

    This is the most stupid legislation ever wanted to be passed!

  • Abongile Mbauli - 2012-02-14 19:15

    Right. . .because there's some evil syndicate out there profiteering from false weather reports.

  • Winsome - 2012-02-14 20:18

    You know you have problems in a country when even the weather warnings are censored! They cant be serious!

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