In terms of the Trespass Act, a trespasser is a person who is present unlawfully and without permission on someone else’s land. Such a person is guilty of a criminal offence.
A person who has a lawful reason to be on someone else’s land cannot be found guilty of trespassing – even if he or she is there without the permission of the owner. Therefore someone delivering goods, a representative or someone asking for directions cannot be a trespasser. However, the Trespass Act provides for the prosecution to prove that the accused trespassed on the land without permission. The person in the dock must provide a lawful reason for his presence.
Stock owners must ensure that persons charged with stock theft are also charged with unlawful trespassing. The punishment for this offence is a fine not exceeding R2 000 or imprisonment not exceeding two years, or both.