If your property protection is with electric fences ~ a simple and cost effective way of discouraging intruders ~ you must be mindful of the fact that this industry is regulated. In 2011 the Electrical Machinery Regulations within the Occupational Health & Safety Act of 1983 (OHSAct) were amended to better outline the requirements for the installation of electric fencing.

The Act requires that any electric security fence system installed, repaired, re-strung, upgraded or extended after the 1 October 2012 must have a valid Electric Fence System certificate of compliance (EFC), issued by a registered Electric Fence System Installer (EFSI).  This certificate can only be issued by a registered person who has been approved by the chief inspector and who has been issued with a Certificate of Registration.

Electric fences certificate validity

These certificates remain valid until such time as you upgrade or repair your fence. Valid EFCs are transferred in a sale of property. If an electric fence was installed before 1 October 2012 and no EFC has been issued since, one will be required before sale of this property can be completed. An EFC will be issued based on the legislation that was applicable at the time the fence was installed and provided the electric fence has adequate earthing, the necessary warning signs and a compliant energiser.

So if a smallholder wishes to erect an electric fence within the property, say around a kraal to keep livestock contained, it will not be necessary to have an EFC for it, as long as it does not form a boundary on a public road.

Make sure that the energiser installed is certified and meets the standards set out in the SANS 60335-2-76 standard document. Make sure that it does actually have a valid certificate to verify this. These are the internationally accepted safety standards that manufacturers must comply with. This will cover the smallholder and will ensure that the energiser is safe to use.

A normal electrical CoC does not cover electric fence certification.

Basic installation requirements

  • If angle brackets will extend into neighbouring property, the neighbour’s consent is required.
  • The placement and positioning of brackets is important, so if angled brackets are used, the maximum outward angle is 45 degrees; and they must be installed on the inside of the boundary wall.
  • Electric fencing on top of walls must be at least 1,5 m above ground level.
  • The fencing must be installed and must operate in such a way that it won’t be hazardous or allow people or animals to become entangled in the wires.
  • Barbed or razor wire cannot be electrified.
  • Electric fences that are installed along public roads or pathways must be identified with compliant yellow warning signs at least 100mm x 200mm, which are also required at all gates and access points. In urban areas, the spacing between the warning signs must not exceed 10m.
  • It must not be possible for people and animals to become entangled in the fence.

This is part four in a five-part series on security on your smallholding. For more, click here.

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