Plagued by a stalker? Harassed? Fight back!

If you or your family are being harassed or stalked in any way, the new ‘Protection from Harassment Act’ has just handed you a new remedy.  The Act promises quick, easy and affordable protection for your rights via an application to your local magistrates court for a “protection order” requiring the harasser to stop his/her unlawful behaviour immediately. The Act has teeth - a harasser who breaches a protection order faces immediate arrest and prosecution (with a penalty of a fine or up to 5 years’ imprisonment). (more…)
Read More

Workplace Discrimination: Lessons From The Dreadlock Dismissals Case

Employers:  Be aware of the wide ramifications of the recent “Dreadlocked Warders” decision by the Supreme Court of Appeal. Briefly, the Court ordered the reinstatement of prison warders dismissed for refusing to cut off their dreadlocks when ordered to do so in terms of the Correctional Services Dress Code applicable to them. The Court accepted that the Rastafari and Xhosa officers in question had worn their dreadlocks “as a ritual in observance of their sincerely held religious and cultural beliefs”.   (more…)
Read More
New rules – Who reports your Income to the Taxman?

New rules – Who reports your Income to the Taxman?

“Third party reporting enables income tax returns to be pre-populated and helps SARS to verify accuracy of taxpayers’ disclosures.” Be aware that SARS has a new information stream which it will use to cross-reference to information you supply, to pre-populate your tax returns, and (presumably) to check generally for compliance and for completeness of taxpayer registration. A new Tax Administration Act Notice requires automatic bi-annual returns from banks, JSE listed companies, medical schemes and a variety of other persons and institutions in respect of a wide range of transactions, contributions and pay-outs including those relating to RAs, life policies, medical…
Read More
The Demolition Danger: Building Without Approved Plans

The Demolition Danger: Building Without Approved Plans

A new High Court decision highlights once again the need to have your building plans approved before you build. The saga starts … This story begins way back in 2004, with the owner of a rural Guest House starting work on a new double-storey conference centre and four self-catering apartments – without getting plans approved, and without applying for rezoning from “Agricultural” to “Resort” (rezoning being required before plans could be considered for approval). There followed a long saga of notices to cease work being ignored, delays around an environmental impact assessment, and rejection of an application for rezoning both…
Read More
Something Wicked This Way Comes – Beware “Tax Refund” Emails

Something Wicked This Way Comes – Beware “Tax Refund” Emails

Be very cautious indeed if you receive an email using the SARS name or logo.  Even if it looks 100% genuine, it may well come from a criminal trying to entice you into parting with personal information, such as your bank account details.  Don’t be fooled by the fact that the mails may appear to come from a SARS email address and in particular beware of  links in such mails to false forms and false websites which look authentic, but certainly aren’t. What to look out for SARS warns in particular of a recent increase in phishing mails suggesting that…
Read More
The Profits and Perils of Property Partnerships

The Profits and Perils of Property Partnerships

“Communio est mater rixarum” (Co-ownership is the mother of disputes) Buying property with the right partners can be extremely profitable all round, but – no matter how well you know and how much you trust each other – be sure to have in place upfront a full partnership agreement.  If (and it happens in even the strongest partnerships) disagreements arise and spiral out of control to the extent of ending up in court, there will be no real winners.  You will all at best be in for delay, cost and acrimony – and at least one of you will be…
Read More
Shoppers: a New Ombud rides to your rescue!

Shoppers: a New Ombud rides to your rescue!

The appliance you bought at your local store doesn’t work when you get it home, so – -- You take it back and demand a refund. -- The store refuses and insists on repairing or replacing it instead. -- You know enough about your rights in terms of the Consumer Protection Act to insist that you get to choose between a refund, replacement or repair – it’s not the store’s choice. -- But still the store refuses to refund you, so you complain to the NCC – the National Consumer Commission. The problem is that the NCC has increasingly come under fire from…
Read More
Who will rid me of this leaking roof?

Who will rid me of this leaking roof?

“If the roof doesn’t leak, the architect hasn’t been creative enough” (Frank Lloyd Wright) Witticisms by modernist architects aside, can you sue the seller when the roof of your new dream house starts leaking shortly after purchase? Roof leaks by their very nature often result from “latent” defects, a latent defect being one that “would not have been visible or discoverable upon inspection by the ordinary purchaser”.  And in all likelihood your sale agreement contains a standard voetstoots clause in terms of which the property was sold “as is”, with the seller contracting out of all liability for latent defects.…
Read More