ACTTo consolidate and amend the laws relating to the immunities and privileges of representatives of other heads of states or governments, to provide for the immunities and privileges of delegates to international conferences and of members and officials of certain organizations and institutions;to provide for the granting of certain immunities, rights and privileges to certain other persons; and to provide for matters incidental thereto.BE IT ENACTED by the King’s Most Excellent Majesty, the Senate and the House of Assembly of the Union of South Africa, as follows:-
In this Act, unless inconsistent with the context -“diplomatic agent” means the public representative of any other head of state or government duly accredited to the Union as an ambassador, high commissioner, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary, minister resident, charge d’affaires or accredited diplomatic representative;“family” means the wife or husband, as the case may be, the minor children, and any other relative approved by the Minister for the purposes of this Act, of any person mentioned in sub-section (1) of section 2 or in subsection 1 of section 2A or in section 2Bor of a member of the staff of any such person;“local authority means any of the institutions referred to in -(a)the Municipal Ordinance, 1963 (Ordinance No. 13 of 1963), of the Territory:(b)the Village Management Boards Ordinance, 1963 (Ordinance No. 14 of 1963), of the Territory: and(c)the Peri-Urban Development Board Ordinance, 1970 (Ordinance No. 19 of 1970), of the Territory;“Minister” means the Minister of Foreign Affairs;“person” includes any organization or institution recognized by the Minister under section 2, and such an organization or institution shall, to the extent consistent with the instrument creating it, be vested in the Territory with the legal capacities of a body corporate;“staff” means counsellors, secretaries, attaches, advisers, chancellors, archivists, stenographers, typists and other persons approved by the Minister who take part in the diplomatic work of a diplomatic mission, the consular work of a consular mission or the work of the office of a representative of another State or person contemplated in section 2B, provided the aforementioned persons are employed exclusively for the purposes of the mission or office;“suite” in relation to any Head of State, diplomatic agent or other representative of or visitor from another sovereign or state means his family, the members of his staff and their families.
2. Immunity of heads of state, diplomatic agents and certain other persons from jurisdiction of courts
(1)Save as provided in section three, the following persons shall be immune from the civil and criminal jurisdiction of the courts of the Territory -(a)heads of state;(b)diplomatic agents;(c)any special envoy from another state, subject to the terms of any agreement governing the mission of such envoy;(d)any organization or institution recognized by the Minister for the purposes of this paragraph, the members, agents or officers of and the delegates to such organizations or institutions, and the permanent representatives of other Governments to such organizations or institutions, together with their wives and minor children, to the extent prescribed in any convention or agreement to which the Government of the Republic is a party;(e)representatives of any government attending any international conference, to the extent prescribed in any Convention or Agreement to which the Union Government is a party;(f)any other person who is recognized by the Minister as being entitled to diplomatic immunity, in accordance with the recognized principles of international law and practice, including in particular persons falling under the category of diplomatic agents who are the representatives of a sovereign or state with whom or which the Union is at peace and who are accredited to another Government, and persons falling under the categories set out in paragraphs (d) and (e), while such diplomatic agents or persons are travelling to or from the country where their official duties are to be carried out or have been carried out,and all legal process sued out against the persons or property of such persons shall be void.(2)The immunity attaching to any person mentioned in sub-section (1) shall extend also to his suite.
2A. Immunities, rights and privileges of career-consular officers, representatives of other States and certain other persons
(1)Career-consular officers, representatives of another State (other than diplomatic agents) and members of the suite of such officers or representatives shall enjoy such immunities, rights and privileges as they enjoy in accordance withthe provisions of any law oran agreement in terms of subsection (2)or the recognized principles of international law.(2)The State President may on a basis of reciprocity and on such conditions as he may deem fit, enter into an agreement with any other State by which immunities, rights and privileges are conferred upon any person concerned contemplated in subsection (1), and any incidental matters are regulated.(3)Such agreement and any amendment thereto shall be published by the State President by proclamation in the Gazette, shall come into force on the date of signature of the agreement or amendment or on the later date stipulated in the agreement or amendment, and shall have the force of law, and the provisions thereof shall prevail in the case of conflict between such provisions and the provisions of any law (other than this Act) or the recognized principles of international law.
2B. Conferment of immunities, rights and privileges by proclamation or other instrument
Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in section 2A or in any law contained, the State President may, if he is satisfied that in a particular case it is not possible or desirable to enter into an agreement contemplated in section 2A and that the conferment of immunities, rights and privileges will be in the interest of the Republic -(a)by proclamation in the Gazette; or(b)in such manner as he thinks fit in any case in which he deems it expedient,subject to such conditions as he may determine, at the request of another government and where possible on a basis of reciprocity, confer upon any person, irrespective of whether such person is a person referred to in section 2A, such immunities, rights and privileges as may be specified in the proclamation or other instrument in question.
3. Immunity not to apply in certain cases
(1)The provisions of section two shall not apply to any person mentioned therein in connection with any liability incurred by him for any tax levied on the incomes of persons or in connection with any transaction entered into by him in his private and personal capacity, for purposes of trade or in the exercise of any profession or calling.(2)The provisions of section two shall not be construed so as to prohibit the waiver by -(a)any person mentioned in paragraph (a), (b), (c), (e) or (f) of sub-section (1) of the said section of the immunity secured to himself or to any member of his suite; or(b)any organization or institution mentioned in paragraph (d) of sub-section (1) of the said section of the immunity secured to such organization or institution or to any member, agent or officer of such organization or institution or to any member of the suite of any such member, agent or officer; or(c)any other Government of the immunity secured to a permanent representative mentioned in the said paragraph (d) or to any member of the suite of any such representative.(3)The Governor-General may withdraw the immunities granted by section two to any person, where the Government of such person fails to accord corresponding immunities to Union representatives or South African Citizens.
4. Register of persons entitled to immunity
(1)(a)The Minister shall cause a register to be kept in which there shall be registered the names of all persons who shall be immune under section 2 or the recognized principles of international law or an agreement contemplated in section 2A or a proclamation contemplated in section 2B from the civil or criminal jurisdiction of the court of the Territory, and every such registration shall be cancelled upon the person concerned ceasing to be so immune.(b)In the case of immunity granted under the recognized principles of international law or an agreement contemplated in section 2A or a proclamation contemplated in section 2B, the extent of such immunity shall be registered in the register.(2)The Minister shall cause every registration or cancellation made under sub-section (1) to be published in the Gazette.(3)At least once in each calendar year, the Minister shall cause to be published in the Gazette, a complete list of all persons on the register.(4)A notice published in terms of this section or a certificate under the hand of the Director-General: Foreign Affairs stating that any person mentioned in such certificate is covered by the provisions of any particular paragraph of subsection (1) of section 2 specified in such certificate or of section 2A or 2B, and accordingly recognized by the Government of the Republic to be entitled to the immunity concerned, or stating that the immunity previously attaching to any such person as aforesaid no longer subsists, or has been cancelled or withdrawn from any particular date, shall be conclusive proof of the facts or conclusions stated therein in any court of law.
5. Exemption from taxation of persons entitled to diplomatic immunity
(1)Subject to the provisions of subsection (3), the Minister may, with the concurrence of the Administrator-General, exempt persons entitled to immunity under section 2 from taxes, duties, fees, rates or other charges levied upon -(i)the person concerned; or(ii)any movable property of such person; or(iii)so much of the income of the person concerned as is derived directly from the holding of his office: Provided that any exemption granted to any person in terms of this sub-section shall not be construed as exempting such person from the necessity of complying with any formalities in respect of the importation of goods which are prescribed in any law relating to customs.(2)If a motor vehicle which has been imported or taken out of bond without payment of customs duty under subsection (1) is sold or disposed of within two years of importation to a person not entitled to customs franchise privileges, the person who sells or disposes of the vehicle may be called upon to pay duty thereon at the rate required according to the law relating to the payment of customs duty.(3)The Governor-General shall only grant exemption in terms of sub-section (1) to -(a)any person mentioned in paragraph (a), (b) or (c) of sub-section (1) of section two, or to the members of the suite of any such person, if he is satisfied that reciprocal treatment is or would be accorded to Union representatives or South African citizens corresponding in rank or position to the person concerned by the Government of that person;(b)any organization or institution mentioned in paragraph (d) of sub-section (1) of section two or any member, agent or officer of such organization or institution, or any representative of any other Government to such organization or institution, or to the wives or minor children of the foregoing persons, to an extent not greater than that prescribed in any Convention or Agreement to which the Union Government is a party.(4)A certificate under the hand of the Secretary for Foreign Affairs stating that the Governor-General has granted any exemption in terms of sub-section (1) or (2) or of sub-section (1) of section six shall be conclusive proof thereof in any court of law.
6. Exemptions which may be granted by Minister to Governments
(1)The Minister may, with the concurrence of the Administrator-General and subject to the provisions of subsection (2), exempt any Government or any organization or institution recognized by him under section 2, from the payment of transfer duty or any other duties, fees, charges or other taxes payable in connection with the transfer of any immovable property acquired by that Government or organization or institution for official purposes in the Territory, as well as from the payment of rates, taxes, fees or other charges levied on or in connection with such property.(2)The Minister shall only grant exemption in terms of subsection (1) to a Government if he is satisfied that reciprocal treatment is or would be accorded to the Government of the Republic by such Government.
7. Adjustment of loss of revenue to local authorities and statutory public utility corporations
The loss of revenue caused to any local authority or statutory public utility corporation by reason of the provisions of sections five and six shall be made good to the local authority or statutory public utility corporation concerned, as the case may be, out of moneys provided by Parliament for that purpose.
8. Recognition of building occupied by diplomatic agent
The Governor-General may by notice in the Gazette recognize any building or premises occupied by a diplomatic agent for the purpose of a chancery or an official residence as an embassy or legation or the office or residence of a high commissioner or other diplomatic agent.
10. Application of immunity to Union citizens
(1)The immunities, privileges and exemptions provided for in this Act shall not apply to or be extended to South African citizens: Provided that -(a)the said immunities, privileges and exemption shall apply or may be extended to South African citizens who are also citizens of a state the territory of which previously formed part of the Republic, provided that such a state on a basis of reciprocity extends similar immunities, privileges and exemption to citizens of such a state who are also South African citizens;(b)if the Government of the Republic has by agreement with an organization or institution referred to in section 2(1)(d) undertaken to extend any immunities, privileges or exemptions to South African citizens who are representatives of another Government on such organization or institution, or who are members, agents or officers of such organization or institution, the said immunities, privileges and exemptions shall apply also to such South African citizens.(2)Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in the Defence Act, 1957 (Act No. 44 of 1957), any officer, agent or representative of an organization or institution referred to in section 2(1)(d) shall be exempt from service under the said Act as a citizen of the Republic.
11. Offences and penalties
(1)Any person who wilfully or without the exercise of reasonable care sues out, obtains or executes any legal process against a person who is entitled to immunity under section 2or 2A or paragraph (a) of section 2B and whose name has been published in terms of subsection (2) of section 4, whether as party, as attorney or as an officer concerned in issuing or executing such process, shall be guilty of an offence.(2)Any person who contravenes subsection (1) or any person who wilfully or without the exercise of reasonable care, commits any other offence which has the effect of infringing the inviolability of a person entitled to immunity under section 2 or 2A or paragraph (a) of section 2Bor of his property or the premises occupied by him, shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding R5 000 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years or to both such fine and such imprisonment.
12. Repeal of laws
The Diplomatic Immunities Act, 1932 (Act No. 9 of 1932), the Diplomatic Immunities Act Amendment Act, 1934 (Act No. 19 of 1934), section sixteen of the Finance Act, 1941 (Act No. 43 of 1941), and sections one to five inclusive of the Diplomatic Immunities and Asiatic Land Tenure Amendment Act, 1944 (Act No. 9 of 1944), are hereby repealed.
13. Amendment of long title and short title of Act 9 of 1944
The Diplomatic Immunities and Asiatic Land Tenure Amendment Act, 1944, is hereby amended -(a)by the deletion in the long title of the words “the Diplomatic Immunities Act, 1932 and”; and(b)by the deletion in section seven of the words “Diplomatic Immunities and”.
14. Short title
This Act shall be called the Diplomatic Privileges Act, 1951.