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Prevention of theft Part 3

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For the last two weeks we have been looking at the Agricultural Produce and Livestock (Prevention of Theft) Act No.49 of 2007. We noticed that legitimate sellers must be registered. We also noted the consequences for persons who have obtained unlawfully agricultural produce and livestock at the value of fifty dollars or of the weight of fifty kilograms or more. This week we will continue to look at the legal consequences for persons who are associated with stolen goods.{{more}}

Concealment of Agricultural Produce and Livestock

If information reaches a constable and he has reasonable cause to believe that agricultural produce or livestock that has been unlawfully obtained, is concealed or lodged on particular premises, the constable could apply to a magistrate or justice of the peace for a search warrant to enter the premises. He may also obtain the authority to use force if necessary to get into the building, whether by breaking open doors or otherwise.

Constable’s Duty

The constable has the duty to arrest the person upon whose property the items are found or any other person present and take him/ her before a magistrate as early as possible. If no one is on the property then a summons could be issued for the suspect or a warrant of arrest could be obtained upon oath

The Suspect

The person brought before the magistrate would be given an opportunity to explain how the items came to be on his property. He must also show that he was not privy to the placing of the same on to his property. If he fails to do so he would be guilty of an offence on summary conviction and would be liable to a fine of ten thousand dollars and to imprisonment of two years or to both.

Tracing to find the thief

If the person who owns the property declares that the items belong to someone else or if the driver of a vehicle denies that he owns the items then all such other persons who previously had possession or control would be brought to the court by summons or warrant to be examined. If such person fails to give an account as to how he obtained the items and is found guilty of having stolen the items he would on summary conviction be liable to a fine of ten thousand dollars and to imprisonment of two years or to both.

Orders

If the items were unlawfully obtained, the magistrate could order that they be returned to the rightful owner subject to a bond as a means of security. The magistrate may order that such items that were unlawfully obtained be sold and the money placed into the Treasury. An order can be also made for the forfeiture and sale of a vehicle used for the transportation of the stolen items. The proceeds of the sale would be paid into the Treasury.

Supervision Orders

Provisions are made for supervision orders to be imposed on persons convicted under the Act. Supervision orders are not to exceed one year. The supervision order may be used in addition to or in substitution for any other punishment to which the person may be liable. If the person has to serve a sentence then it comes after the person has served his/her sentence.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: exploringthelaw@yahoo.com

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