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In the Boksburg Magistrate’s Court this morning Julian swift was found guilty on two of 17 charges related to his having observed airliners landing at OR Tambo airport on 10 February 2010.
Swift was fined R5,000.00 or ten months in jail for listening to an air traffic controller at OR Tambo Airport and was discharged with a warning for having an illegal device.
Planespotting is a worldwide activity that brings many tourists to South Africa. Until Swift’s arrest no one had any reason to believe an airband radio receiver was illegal. Since Julian Swift’s arrest a number of international visitors have been arrested in South Africa, some spending time in jail.
In his ruling the magistrate rejected the ‘mens rea’ defence which requires a guilty mind for a crime to have been committed. This despite the shop that sold Swift the radio having no idea that it was illegal and Julian Swift having, in his ignorance of any possible guilt, made no attempt to conceal or deny having the receiver when the police first apprehended him. The magistrate also overlooked the defence’s argument as to the problems with what the RICA Act intended in its definition of ‘intercepting’ radio transmissions.
This is the first I have ever heard of this. This is some kind of hobby? or is this something that criminals do? I am not following the story very well I guess.