Picture: Marlon Shevelew, director Marlon Shevelew & Assoc.; Clive Hendricks, president Cape Town Attorneys Association
The technical problems at the Government Printing Works halts not only property ownership transfers but the country from functioning properly.
Over the past few weeks estate agents and conveyancers have discovered that it is currently not possible to print lost or misplaced title deeds. This is causing huge problems for home buyers, sellers and estate agencies alike.
As it turns out, printing title deeds are only the tip of the iceberg …
The delay in printing title deeds could cause the lapsing of clearance certificates and an increase in the costs of transferring a property. But the effects of the Government Printing Works (GPW) capacity are not limited to conveyancing, far from it warns Marlon Shevelew, director Marlon Shevelew and Associates.
The impact of these issues is wide ranging and drastic. Shevelew explains that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, the government has regularly promulgated regulations in terms of the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002. “This is essential as the regulations are the vehicle through which the government needed to respond to the pandemic. If there was a drastic action which needed to be taken, it would have been delayed now because of the GPW’s technical issues,” he says.
A further example are insolvency proceedings, which are strictly regulated by statute. When publication cannot be done in accordance with the relevant legislation it results in wasted legal fees and unnecessary delays.
‘Technical system challenges’
According to their website South Africa’s Government Printing Works has some of the most sophisticated printing technology on the continent at it’s disposal, it says “it ranks as one of the most progressive security printing specialists in Africa, boasting a high-tech production facility with world leading technologies”.
However, for the past few weeks this same lauded system has been having ‘technical system challenges’. Using the manual process extraordinary gazettes could be printed. The processing of provincial and national regulation gazettes could also be initiated. However due to their size tender bulletins, legal gazettes and road carrier permits could not be published.
So far the GPW has not been able to give a date when their ‘challenges’ will be resolved. All that has been communicated regarding the issue is a statement (see below) dated 24 February 2021 by Sihle Ngubane, acting general manager: operations and production that says they regret the inconvenience caused but they can’t give a date when the printing works will be fully up and running.
Government Printing Works has had technical system challenges since February.
The lack of communication by the GPW as well as their apparent lack of contingency plans greatly concerns Clive Hendricks, president of the Cape Town Attorneys Association (CTAA). According to Hendricks attorneys were only informed about the issues after they paid for publication of notices and thereafter noticed that their notices were not published.
“It is concerning that it takes so long to address the technical issues. As a critical stakeholder, the CTAA expect the government printer to have appropriate contingency plans in place in the event of technical challenges,” says Hendricks.
Each sector will no doubt have countless examples of the way in which the GPW’s inability to carry out its functions impacts on that industry’s day to day operations. The long and short of it is that the GPW needs to be operational for South Africa to function. And the longer that it is unable to do so, the larger the problem will become.
“One upside of the situation and the very many essential functions that the GPW is currently unable to do is simply the fact that we are all in the same boat. And hopefully the collective sigh of South Africans will spur the GPW on to get back to working ways,” ends Shevelew.