Articles

Please read about the changes to Sections  of the Veterinary and Para-Veterinary Professions Act,
Act 19 of 1982:
Section 31 A and Section 28

Council approved the amendment and submitted these amendments for publication.

Scroll down to read more about Suspension (Section 28)


INSPECTION: APPOINTMENT OF INVESTIGATING OFFICER (Section 31 A)

Council invited comment in Newsletter 47 November 2006 to include a new section (31A) in the Act to allow for the appointment of an investigating officer to among other things search premises and seize documents. This will only happen if a judge/magistrate has granted a warrant to this effect.

In summary:

·    The Council appoints an investigation officer

·    The President must approve the application for a warrant from a judge/ magistrate to search and seize records/ electronic data relating to a complaint that is being investigated

·     This will only be given if there is:

  1. prima facie evidence of a transgression of the Act;

  2. reasonable belief that there are records/electronic data in the possession of the person who is to be investigated;

  3. details of the records/ electronic data recorded beforehand; and

  4. a well-founded apprehension that the evidence may be hidden, destroyed or tampered with

·    Any person who is aggrieved by a decision of the registrar, president or council in terms of this section has the right to appeal to the High Court against such a decision. 

31A.   Manner in which certain investigations may be instituted.— (1)  The registrar may with the approval of Council, where necessary in order to establish more facts, appoint an officer of the council as investigating officer for a particular investigation;

(2)  If the registrar deems it necessary, he or she may with the approval of Council appoint any person other than an officer of the council, who is not in the full-time employment of the council, as investigating officer for a particular investigation, or to assist the investigating officer contemplated in subsection (1) with a particular investigation;

(3)  A person appointed in terms of subsection (2) shall, for the purpose of the investigation in question, have the same powers and duties as the investigating officer contemplated in subsection (1);

(4)  The registrar shall issue to every person appointed under subsection (1) or (2) a certificate to the effect that he or she has so been appointed, and, in the case of a person appointed for, or to assist with, a particular investigation, that he or she has been appointed for such investigation, and in the exercise of his or her powers and the carrying out of his or her duties that person shall on demand produce such certificate.

(5)  If the registrar deems it necessary for the achievement of the objects of this Act, he or she may institute or cause to be instituted an investigation—

(a)  into an alleged contravention of, or failure to comply with, any provision of this Act;

(b) in order to determine if any provision of this Act applies to or has been contravened by a registered person; and

(c)  into a charge, complaint or allegation of  unprofessional conduct by a registered person;

(6)       The registrar may, with the approval of the president of council, instruct an investigating officer to obtain a warrant issued by a magistrate or judge to enter upon and search any premises and carry out such an investigation and make such enquiries as the investigating officer may deem it necessary provided that:

(a) prima facie evidence of a contravention of this Act or rules exist;

(b) a person whose conduct is being investigated has or reasonable grounds exists to believe that such a person has in his or her possession records and/or electronic data relating to the matter which is being investigated which is or was on the premises,  or in the possession or custody of such a person;

(c) the records and/or electronic data is to be recorded by the registrar and presented to the president prior to the application for the warrant; and

(d) there is real and well founded apprehension that the evidence may be hidden, destroyed or tampered with.

(7) An investigating officer who carries out an investigation in terms of this section may—

(a)  at any time reasonable for the proper performance of  his or her duty, with a warrant, and without prior notice enter upon and search any premises, and carry out such an investigation and make such enquiries as he or she may deem necessary:

(b) while he or she is on the premises or at any other time request the person whose conduct is being investigated to immediately or at a time and place determined by the registrar or investigating officer—

(i)                 produce to him or her the records or electronic data relating to, or which he or she on reasonable grounds believes to relate to, the matter which he or she is investigating, and which is or was on the premises, or in the possession or custody or under the control of that person or his or her employee or agent; and

(ii)               furnish such explanations to him or her as he or she may require in respect of any such records or , electronic data ; and

(c)  at any time and at any place request any person who has or is suspected on reasonable grounds of having in his or her possession or custody or under his or her control any records or , electronic data  relating to the matter which he or she is investigating, to produce it immediately or at a time and place determined by the registrar or investigating officer, examine such records  and /or electronic data , make extracts from and copies of the records and/or  electronic data, and request any person to furnish such explanations to him or her as he or she may require in respect of any entry in that record  or electronic data .;

8)  (a)  The registrar or an investigating officer who carries out an investigation under this section, shall compile a report of the investigation, and a report compiled by an investigating officer shall be submitted to the registrar

(b)         (i)  If such a report reveals prima facie evidence of unprofessional conduct contemplated in this Act and no complaint or charge has been lodged or laid or allegation regarding the conduct in question has been made for the purpose of an inquiry in terms of section 31, such report shall be deemed to be a complaint made for that purpose, and the registrar shall serve a copy thereof on the registered person concerned.

(ii)               If such a report reveals prima facie evidence, which makes it desirable that an investigation in terms of section 31 be instituted, the registrar shall forward a copy thereof to a committee to further investigate and deal with the matter in terms of this Act.

(iii)   If such a report does not reveal prima facie evidence of unprofessional conduct contemplated in this Act, the registrar shall serve a copy thereof  on the registered person concerned.

(c)  To the extent that such a report contains statements of witnesses which would have been admissible as oral evidence at an inquiry in terms of section 31 the provisions of section 213 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (Act No. 51 of 1977), shall apply mutatis mutandis in respect of those statements at such an inquiry.

(9)  (a)  A person who carries out or assists with the carrying out of an investigation in terms of this section, shall keep or assist in preserving  confidentiality in respect of all facts which come to his or her notice in the performance of his or her functions, and shall not disclose any such fact to any person except the registrar, the president of the council or the public prosecutor concerned in the case of an offence in terms of this Act, or by order of a court.

(10)  Any person who—

(a)  refuses or neglects to produce any record or electronic data  to any person who is in terms of this section authorised to ask for it;

(b)  hinders or obstructs the registrar or an investigating officer in the exercise of his or her powers or the carrying out of his or her duties;

(c)  pretends that he or she is the registrar or an investigating officer;

(d)  contravenes a provision of subsection (9), shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction—

(i) in the case of a contravention contemplated in paragraph (a), (b) or (c), to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding twelve months or to both a fine and such imprisonment;

(ii) in the case of a contravention contemplated in paragraph (d), to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or to both  a fine and such imprisonment.

(11) Any person who is aggrieved by a decision of the registrar, president of council or council in terms of this section has the right to appeal to the High Court against such a decision. 

SECTION 28A TO MAKE PROVISION FOR SUSPENSION OF VETERINARY AND PARA-VETERINARY PROFESSIONALS

28A.   Suspension of veterinary and para-veterinary professionals and revocation of such suspension.—(1)  A relevant  committee to whom the function has been delegated may authorise the registrar to suspend the registration of any person—

(a)       who has failed to comply with the requirements in respect of continuing professional development as prescribed under section 25A; or

(b)       who on the basis of a complaint lodged with the council or information available at the disposal of council is posing an imminent threat or danger to the public or any animal in terms of his or her professional practice.

(2)  The registrar must issue the notice of suspension and forward it to the person contemplated in subsection (1) by way of certified mail, fax or electronic transmission to the address appearing in respect of him or her in the register.

(3)  As from the date of issue of the notice referred to in subsection (2) and its receipt by the person concerned—

(a)      any registration certificate issued in terms of this Act to the person concerned must be deemed to be suspended; and

(b)      such person must immediately cease to practise the veterinary or para-veterinary profession in respect of which he or she is registered or to perform any act which he or she in his or her capacity as a registered person is entitled to perform, until such time as the suspension of his or her registration is lifted

(4)  The suspension of any person in terms of subsection (1) must be revoked by the registrar upon—

(a)      the expiry of the suspension period

(b)      such person complying with requirements in respect of continuing professional development as prescribed under section 25A; and

(c)      such person complying with such other requirements as the council may determine".