Trading in second-hand goods


You may be forgiven for thinking that the new Second-Hand Goods Act is already in force. After all, it has been in the making for years, and it has been signed into law on 1 April 2009.

However, it’s not. The antiquated 1955 Act still governs this field. Of course, antiquated or not, it has to be adhered to while it is in force.

Here are the most pertinent points of the old Act:

  • Anyone who deals in second-hand good must apply for the (annual) certificate from the local police station, except people involved in exempt areas (e.g. licensed auctioneers who sells second hand goods on public auctions);
  • SAPS will issue a certificate if it is satisfied that the applicant is a person of good character and that his or her premises are suitable for the trade;
  • Persons who deal in second hand goods must keep records, manual or digital, of all transactions, with full details of buyers and sellers involved, as well as full description of the goods. Records need not be kept for excluded goods, and in the terms of the 1955 Act many goods are excluded, like TVs, video machines, carpet cleaners, hi-fi, kitchen utensils, cell phones, fax machines, computers (however, sewing machines are included).

And what changes will the 2009 Act bring once it comes into force, which is expected to happen this year?

The new Act is a more elaborate piece of legislation. It covers the fields that were outside of the scope of the 1955 act (pawn brokers, auctioneers) and prescribes record-keeping for the goods that were excluded from the old act.

Both the existing and the new Second-Hand Acts affect people who sell on bidorbuy profoundly, if they carry on a business of dealing in second-hand goods. However, people who every now and then resort to bidorbuy to sell this or that second-hand item do not fall under the legislation.

South Africa has a thriving trade in second-hand goods. The problem is that this is often a consequence of theft. The new Act aims to regulate this area better and rid it of the criminals, without infringing on the right of people to carry on legitimate trade in used goods.

We as consumers can help “white-wash” trade in used goods by refusing to buy stuff that we know is of dubious providence, no matter now alluring the deal may seem. For, as long as we buy stolen items, criminals will hi-jack our cars and break into our homes and offices.

Read more:

The 2009 Second-Hand Act (the best copy we would find on the internet)

The 2009 Second-Hand Act explained (highly recommended read!)