Black market goods pose a threat to the economy of a country by
putting pressure on the viability of legal suppliers of goods. In the case of the sale of illegal
DVDs however, the stakes are even higher. DVDs sold illegally would not have followed the
regulated process of content classification by the Film and Publication Board (FPB), resulting
in the potential exposure of children to content that could harm them.
As guardians of safe media consumption for the children of South Africa, the FPB goes
beyond regulating content and monitoring the compliance of legally registered distributors.
The parastatal also works with the South African Police (SAPS) and Law Enforcement
Agencies (LEA’s) to raid unlawful distributors and street vendors, confiscating illegal DVDs.
The LEA and SAPS assist the FPB in opening criminal cases and the prosecution of these
On 26 July, the FPB destroyed over 222 973 DVDs and CDs seized during raids conducted in Johannesburg. The street value of the seized DVDs and CDs is estimated at more than R 22, 297, 300 million. The discs were from evidence submitted during concluded court cases. The majority of the confiscated material came from the Johannesburg Central area and consists of a large percentage of English titles from Hollywood, followed by pornography and local titles.
The act of destruction is an important contributor to economic growth in South Africa for
the following reasons, said Dr Maria Motebang, Acting CEO of the FPB: “This includes
clamping down on illicit trade which contributes to a value-chain of criminality; and
simultaneously the act of destruction of illicit material supports local content creators by
ensuring that the potential economic outflow of their work is not lost to piracy. The
destruction process is conducted to prevent confiscated discs from finding their way back to
the market. Most of the confiscated material was unclassified making it illegal under the
Films and Publications Act. In addition, some discs contained pornographic material which were sold on the streets and at taxi ranks and carries the risk of exposing children to harmful
She continues: “The illegal distribution of discs impacts negatively on the film and creative
industry. Pirate peddlers steal intellectual property and consequently, steal revenue by
depriving content creators of their royalties. Legal distributors lose their livelihood.”
The Films and Publications Act 65 of 1996, (amended), prohibits the distribution of
unclassified films and games. The Act requires the classification decisions to be clearly and
conspicuously displayed. Failure to do this could lead to imprisonment of up to 6 months, a
fine or both.