South African legislation can be down-loaded from http://www.polity.org.za/searchadvanced_lb.php or obtained from: 

                   Butterworths Professional Publishers, P O Box 4, Mayville, 4058.

                   Johannesburg 011-784-8009

                   Durban 031-2683111

                   Cape Town 021-5558900


Copyright Act (Act 98 of 1978), as amended


Software packages and (spatial) data are protected by the Copyright Act and contravening of the Act can be legally prosecuted. Electronic license agreements are binding. Prosecution can be done by any country to a citizen of another country – the Act specifies the details of how and why. Therefore, using Google Earth for commercial purposes is illegal and can be prosecuted.

Spatial Data Infrastructure Act (SASDI) (Act No 54 of 2003)


“This Act applies to organs of state which hold spatial information and to users of spatial information.”

Through he Committee on Spatial Information (CSI), this Act will specify the data custodians who will be responsible for data capturing, update and maintenance of South Africa base data sets. A private company may become the responsibility body of a data custodian and would then have these responsibilities as identified in the Act for data custodians. Users will be responsible for notifying data custodians of errors in the data.

Regulations in terms of SASDI


At this stage it calls for the public to nominate people to serve on the Committee for Spatial Information (CSI). Nominations closed 5 March 2007 I think. Some companies may have GIS personnel who are members of GISSA and will therefore probably have representation on the CSI.

Legal Deposit Act (Act No 54 of 1997)


All publicly published documents (read also artefact) will have to be sent within 14 days to recognised Places of Legal Deposit such as the State Library. If a company is the author of a publicly published document, they will be liable to send 5 copies of the document to the State Library. These include geospatial and attribute data. If a company mostly serve clients, it is the responsibility of the client to send copies to Places of Legal Deposit. If the client fails to keep a copy (they can be prosecuted), the company may be held liable to provide copies. Nothing basically may be destroyed if there is not a copy of the CD / document at a Place of Legal Deposit. Exemptions are possible.

National Archives Act of SA (Act No 43 of 1996)


Any publicly published document (read also artefacts) older than 20 years, will have to be submitted to the National Archives. No document may be destroyed without the permission of the National Archivist. Documents submitted to Places of Legal Deposit would of course be transferred to the National Archives.

Promotion of Access to Information Act (Act 2 of 2000) (PAIA)


“To give effect to the constitutional right of access to any information held by the State and any information that is held by another person and that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights; and to provide for matters connected therewith.”


When a person request data from a company, of which the company is not the owner or vendor of, it is the responsibility of the company to refer the requester to the correct institution or information holder. Should the company be the holder of information, the person must be assisted in the request and properly informed of the procedure of processing. If the request is denied, reasons for denial must be provided in writing to the person or explained to the person. If the request is granted, lists of fees apply to what the company can charge the person for handling the request. A person appointed in the company is mainly responsible for ‘publishing’ a document electronically of what data is available at the company, as well as handling the requests, however if not available, any other person would be held responsible for assisting in a request. If the request will take more than 6 hours, the company may request a deposit to be paid. The requested must be informed of the total cost of the request before proceeding. Improper conduct is specified in the Act. There is a pricing policy for public and private sectors.

SA Geographical Names Council Act (Act No 118 of 1998), as amended


This Act specifies the procedures through which Organs of State (e.g. developers contracted b an Organ of State such as a local municipality) must apply for a new name, or for the change of an existing name. Unless the company buys and develops their own property as “Mandelaville”, this does not directly apply to us, but we may advise our clients of the Act, procedures and implications.

Statistics Act No. 6 of 1999


This Act mainly applies to StatsSA, who are liable for the protection of private information. Any person contracted by StatsSA would have to make an oath to upkeep the conditions of the Act.

Electronic Communications and Transaction Act No.25 of 2002


This Act recognises e-mails as an electronic transaction and ensures that internet transactions are secured and legally binding. The Act specifies standards for protecting the rights of the consumer / user. This will protect GIS users when terms of obtaining software and data through the internet, and will also legally bind them through license agreements.

Professional and Technical Surveyor’s Act 40 of 1984 (PLATO)


PLATO was directed at the surveyors and land surveyors for a few main reasons:

a)to regulate the industry and b) to protect the client from work done improperly. For GIS specialist a bill was drawn up and is still being discussed - not approved yet, in which categories of GIS specialists were identified and similar laws drawn up for GIS specialist. While awaiting the approval of the bill, GIS specialist applying for professional registration needs to rely on the PLATO Act for reference.


Information listed in the PLATO Act:


  • Levels of practitioners are specified for surveyors


For GIS specialists the levels are:


    • Professional GIS practitioner (GISc Pr.)
    • Professional GIS practitioner in training
    • GIS Technologist (GISc T.)
    • GIS Technologist in training
    • GIS Technician (GISc Techn.)
    • GIS Technician in training


Additional documentation was provided by the PLATO organisation regarding requirements for each level and which areas of expertise needs to be mastered during training periods, which will have impact on the organisation. Once an employee at an organisation would want to move up to a higher level, and the company cannot provide the infrastructure or expertise to mentor the employee, other resources outside the company may have to be used to fulfil this training (e.g. web-based systems experience). Refer to the definitions of the Act as well as the additional documentation for registration as GIS specialist with PLATO.


  • GIS work will be reserved for registered personnel only


All GIS work done for Organs of State would have to be done by professionally registered people. Private bodies are not prohibited. Currently this is not fully implemented for GIS personnel, but in future may have a larger impact. See S27 of the Act. The implication would be that no locality map or sensitivity map may be done by unregistered GIS persons if the client is an Organ of State.


  • Companies may have to register


The implications are not clear yet, but in future companies employing professionally registered GIS personnel, would have to be registered with PLATO as well. See S 27A for Companies and S27B for Closed Corporations.


  • Companies and employees may be held liable for improper conduct


Improper conduct will be investigated by the PLATO Council and may include any law not adhered to (refer to list of all Acts in this document), or one or more of the following (only a few examples are listed here):

    • A registered GIS person entrusting his/her work to another person not registered or not on the required level of registration (e.g. asking someone to do our data capturing if that person is not registered);
    • Did not obtain permission from the Council to entrust someone else with work assigned to you;
    • See S28 for more information, as well as the Rules of the PLATO Act.


  • Service providers to companies must also be registered?


Rules in terms of the PLATO Act


The Rules specify more deeds of improper conduct, of which a few were listed here (see CVIII.15):

o    “Undertaking work of a survey (read GIS) nature for the execution of which he or she was inadequately trained or insufficiently experienced”;

o    Advertising not truthfully or factually and misrepresenting qualifications;

o    Advertising his/her name in association with equipment or commodity;

o    Touting in advertisements (e.g.” the best GIS practitioners in South Africa”);

o    Sending or making unsolicited phone calls, mails, letters or visits;

o    Registered GIS persons/ Co may only enter into partnerships with other registered town and regional planners, surveyors, architects, professional engineers (see CVIII.15(10));

o    Allowing unregistered persons to assist in GIS work;

o    Working for a company not approved by the Council (i.e. registered with PLATO);

o    “Using the advantage of a salaried position to compete unfairly with other registered persons”;

o    If a company does not deliver work to a client within xx amount of time, the client has the right not to pay the company, and source the work out to another person.

o    If a GIS person did work for the company and leaves the company, and the client discovers mistakes in the work, the company would be held liable for correcting the mistakes on their own costs.


For more information regarding PLATO and GISc Professional registration, please refer to the PLATO (http://www.plato.org.za/) and GISSA (http://www.gissa.org.za/) websites.


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