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Second-Hand Goods Act will come into effect on April 1 2012 reports:

The long-awaited Second-Hand Goods Act will come into effect on April 1, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Wednesday.

Replying to a parliamentary question, he said the act would ensure more thieves and buyers of stolen goods are arrested and convicted.

"Any person who buys stolen goods is as guilty as the person who stole the goods, and harsher sentences will apply to both the buyer and the thief," he said.

A national structure has also been established to deal with the control of second-hand goods.

Among other things, the act requires all dealers in second-hand goods to report to the police all suspicious transactions where the seller attempts to provide false particulars, or where the goods are suspected to be stolen or tampered with.

Second-hand goods dealers and pawnbrokers will therefore not only have to take reasonable steps to ensure that they do not buy stolen goods or goods that have been tampered with, but also be careful from whom they buy goods. If an unscrupulous dealer is found guilty, a court can impose a prison sentence of up to 10 years.