Feb 112014
 

Electric Fences Regulations & Rules Explained

A Definition of  Electric Fences

Electric fence top wall s Electric Fences Explained

Electric barrier fence erected on top of a street facing wall

For the purposes of managing and assessing proposals in terms of the City’s policy, an electric fence means “an electrified barrier erected on top of a boundary wall or attached to a boundary wall or fence”.

Specifications for Electric Fences

  • Electric fences shall conform to the following:
  • Electric fences may not be any higher than 450 mm.
  • They must be at least 1,8 m above the level of natural ground at any point.
  • They may only be erected on top of walls and fences, or attached to them.
  • They may not encroach over site boundaries.
  • Regulation 11 of the Electrical Machinery Regulations promulgated in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, No 85 of 2003 must be fully complied with.

Regulation 11 of the above Act gives information in terms of how electric fences operate in terms of the shock they impart. For instance, the peak value of voltage is 10 kV; the maximum duration of the electrical impulse it puts out is 50 ms; the minimum interval allowed between impulses is 0.75s; the maximum quantity of electricity per impulse allowed is 2.5 mC; and the maximum energy discharge per impulse measured at a resistance of 500 ohms is 8 J. In a nutshell, electric fences are intended to be a deterrent – not a device that will kill an intruder!

Other points in Regulation 11 include (but are not limited to):

  • “fence energizers” shouldn’t be installed in locations where they could become a fire hazard
  • they shouldn’t be installed any closer than 2 m from the earth of any other electrical system
  • barbed-wire should never be electrified – the idea is that a person who touches electric wiring will let go immediately

In addition, the City’s policy document states that freestanding electric fences may not be erected along any boundary in a position that would allow people to “inadvertently come into contact therewith”.

Essentially the reasoning is that while electric fencing is erected to keep intruders out, it must not be erected in such a way that a passer-by could touch it accidentally.

Security Devices Explained

Definition of Security Devices

Spikes wall electric1 s Electric Fences Explained

Spikes and an electric fence mounted on top of a street facing wall.

For the purposes of managing and assessing proposals in terms of the policy, security devices include a variety of devices – security spikes, razor wire and barbed wire affixed to, or on the top of walls or fences.

Requirements Regarding Security Devices

Any proposal in this regard shall comply with the following:

  • Security spikes are permitted on top of boundary walls as long as they are affixed at least 1,8m above the footway (usually a pavement or kerb).
  • Security spikes may not encroach over the site boundary.
  • Razor and barbed wire is not permitted in any form in residential-zoned and commercial-zoned areas. They may be used in areas that are zoned industrial.
  • Glass shards are not permitted in any form in residential areas.

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Acceptable Materials for the Construction of Boundary Walls and Fences

1. Residential and Commercial-zoned Areas

Street Frontage

These materials are allowed:

  • Facebricks and facebrick finishing
  • Plastered and painted brickwork
  • Decorative brick and blocks
  • Natural stone
  • Galvanized or plastic-coated wire mesh
  • Pre-cast concrete
  • Cast-iron work
  • Steel palisade fencing
  • Timber, as long as the components consist of:

(i)            processed and treated and square-sawn timber

(ii)          round poles of even thickness in the case of ranch-type fencing

(iii)         in the case of interwoven fencing, shall be suitably capped and framed

  • Freestanding electric fences that are set back by at least 1 metre from the boundary.
  • Electric fences and spikes are permitted on top of walls and fences.

These materials are not permitted:

  • Galvanized iron sheets
  • Asbestos-cement or fibre-reinforced sheets
  • Barbed wire, unless the Council is satisfied that the property is being used for bona fide farming purposes (which clearly wouldn’t be the case in a residential area).
  • Razor wire
  • Off-cut, untreated split-pole or sapwood timber (laths or latte) of any kind.
  • Razor wire and barbed wire, and embedded glass shards are not permitted on top of walls and fences

2. Lateral Boundaries (ie neighbour’s boundaries)

These are the boundaries between you and neighbouring properties.

These materials are permitted:

  • Facebricks and facebrick finishing
  • Plastered and painted brickwork
  • Decorative brick blocks
  • Natural stone
  • Galvanized or plastic-coated wire mesh
  • Pre-cast concrete
  • Cast-iron work
  • Steel palisade fencing
  • Timber, provided the components consist of:

(i)            processed and treated and square-sawn timber

(ii)          round poles of even thickness in the case of ranch-type fencing

(iii)         in the case of interwoven fencing, shall be suitably capped and framed

  • Freestanding electric fences must be set back by at least 1 metre from the boundary.
  • Electric fences and spikes are permitted on top of walls and fences.

These materials are not permitted:

  • Galvanized iron sheets
  • Asbestos-cement or fibre-reinforced sheets
  • Off-cut, untreated split-pole or sapwood timber (laths or latte) of any kind.
  • Razor wire and barbed wire, and embedded glass shards are not permitted on top of walls and fences

3. Industrial Areas

As above except that galvanized iron sheets, razor and bared wire are allowed on both street and lateral boundaries.

Authority to Erect a Boundary Wall or Fence or Electric Fence

Prior written authority to erect a boundary wall or fence or to install an electric fence must be obtained from Council in terms of the National building Regulations and other applicable laws.

[Note: The local authority has the right to demand plans for walls and fences that are higher than 1,8 m]

Deviations and Relaxations of the City of Cape Town Policy

Deviations and relaxations of the policy are permitted at the discretion of the District Manager. Any application for a deviation or relaxation must be accompanied by a full motivation including endorsement by the neighbouring property owners.

[So if you want to do something that is not normally allowed, your neighbour will have to agree – in writing. The same applies to your neighbour.]

Sources

Boundary Walls and Fences Policy. City of Cape Town, Directorate: Strategy & Planning; Department of Planning & Building Development Management; Development Policy & Processes Branch. January 2009.

Reader’s Digest Family Guide to The Law in South Africa. The Reader’s Digest Association South Africa (Pty) Ltd. Cape Town. 1986.

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