Professionalism : Errant opposers brought to book by SACAP

The recent verdict of a Cullinan Magistrates court, convicting and fining a man R5 000 for contravening a section of the Architectural Profession Act of 2000, sends a message to both the profession and the public that the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP) is flexing its muscle to fulfil its public protection mandate.

The case against the gentleman arose from complaints received by SACAP which its Legal and Compliance Unit handed over to the South African Police Service. The core of the complaints against him were that he had undertaken to draw building plans for two members of the public, but failed to perform as per the appointment.

During preliminary investigation, SACAP found that his professional registration was cancelled in terms of Section 20 (1) (a) (iii) of Act 44 of 2000, due to his failure to pay the prescribed annual fee. He was therefore prohibited from drawing plans for members of the public in terms of section 18(2) of the Act, due to the fact that he was not registered in any of the categories of registration contemplated in section 18 (1).

Says Marella O’Reilly, SACAP’s Registrar/CEO, “We intend to work closely with Prosecutors to ensure more convictions in this regard. In the past two years, SACAP has handled 421 complaints of improper conduct against Registered Persons. Furthermore, since April 2014 SACAP has reported 78 cases to the South African Polices Services of persons passing themselves off as Registered Persons. Since 12 May 2014, over 130 Registered Professionals were charged with improper conduct and SACAP convened Disciplinary Tribunals to adjudicate all charges of improper conduct.”

Council is directed to take any steps it considers necessary for the protection of the public in their dealings with registered persons for the maintenance of the integrity and the enhancement of the status of the architectural profession.

Members of the public who need architectural services can verify whether such persons are registered with SACAP and in good standing; as well as report cases of improper conduct to their Legal and Compliance Unit.

For this purpose SACAP enacted a Code of Professional Conduct requiring Registered Persons to carry out professional work with due skill, competency and integrity. In addition, SACAP promulgated Rules for Disciplinary Proceedings to ensure that they are handled objectively, procedurally and in a transparent manner.

The majority of the charges of improper conduct emanates from Registered Person’s failure to:

  • set out terms of appointment in writing as required by Rule 4.1;
  • perform  architectural work within a reasonable time;
  • adequately communicate with  clients;
  • act diligently in accordance with applicable technical and professional standards;
  • act in accordance with the requirements of the assignment; 
  • promote professional services in a truthful and honest manner;
  • failure to avoid conflict of interest;
  • not issue certificates in connection with building projects negligently;
  • undertake architectural work with the direction, supervision and control of a Registered Person by candidates;
  • perform architectural work identified for the category of registration;
  • inform SACAP in writing within 30 days of the establishment of the architectural practice giving full details about the practice;
  • inform SACAP prior to entering into professional relationships or associations with persons who are not registered;
  • ensure that Architectural Practices do not use one registration number to submit building plans to the Municipality; and
  • persons who are registered in Foreign Countries practising in South Africa without being registered with SACAP.

All complaints from the public are duly investigated by the Investigating Committee and if there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate improper conduct on the part of a Registered Person, Council charges the registered person with improper conduct.

Apart from dealing with alleged improper conduct by Registered Persons, SACAP also refers to the South African Police Services, any complaints referred to it by members of the public which relate to persons passing themselves off as Registered Persons. To this end, on 08 October 2014, SACAP entered into an understanding with the South African Police Service Commissioner to ensure that all cases received from the public against persons who are not registered are investigated and perpetrators are brought to book.  

Members of the public should take notice that the Architectural Profession Act requires SACAP to publish the findings and sanctions against all Registered Persons found guilty of improper conduct in a Gazette. Therefore, there are gazette notices on the SACAP website showing all Registered Person found guilty of improper conduct and the relevant sanctions.

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