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What Legalities You Need To Be Aware Of If You Want To Host An Event In A Public Space In Joburg

Let’s first clear this out the way, if you are planning to erect a marquee tent on private property you’ll be in the clear and won’t need to abide by these rules.

BUT! If that corner of parkland near your Sandton home has caught your event planning eye, you will need to know a little bit about the “no-nos” and procedures around the By-Laws of Johannesburg. Specifically the Public Open Spaces By-Law, 2004. If you must know they were published in the Province of Gauteng: Provincial Gazette no. 179.

It’s a cracking read, but we know that time is money and you just want the bare-bone facts. Here’s what you need to know legally if you are planning on erecting a tent, or just generally planning an event in a public space in Joburg.

Prohibited Use
We’re going to list what you may not do in public spaces, which will affect your event.

According to the By-Laws, no person can make a fire, except in a facility provided by the council for that purpose. But we know that you know, any event in South Africa needs a braai. Currently, we offer a few fire options, including a barrel and spit braai.

Then, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but no consumption of alcoholic beverages can happen in a public area. The By-Law also includes; brewing, storing, or selling as well. So, unless you’re hosting a kiddies party with adults who are teetotallers you can’t host the event.

And if you’re thinking, my kids will be playing soccer and playing some music, I don’t need a permit, well, you’re actually wrong!

You may not use any sound equipment in public, this includes radios, portable hi-fis or a car-stereo. So, next time that youth is walking with their Bluetooth speaker pumping, tell them what they are doing is illegal.

Also, you may not play any active games in public open spaces, this is due to the fact it may cause injury to other users in the area and/or damage to vegetation.

The list of active games includes:
– Rugby;
– Golf;
– Archery (duh);
– Football;
– Tennis;
– Badminton;
– Hockey;
– Netball;
– Volleyball;
– Skateboarding;
– Roller-skating;
– And in-line skating.

While we noticed there was no mention of cricket, there is however a statement that says, “unless the context otherwise indicates -” so we assume that’s also ‘no-no’. But our tip would be to host a cricket party, rebel against the system!

It should go without saying, but we’re going to say it anyway, you are not allowed to erect any tents or marquees. This is laid out in detail in the by-law, but the reasoning for this law is that when individuals do any construction work, of any structure, it heightens the chances of damaging the public open space.

But, don’t worry, if you want to do any of the above you can apply for a “special event permit” and “application for permission”.

Yes, You’re Hosting A Special Event! 

The definition of a special event is vast, but it is legally laid out as:

“… a parade, procession, race, concert, show, exhibition, festival, ceremony, film shoot, photographic shoot or similar event, which requires, for that purpose, exclusive use of a part of a public open space;”

So, we’re sure your event falls within this interpretation of “special event”.

You will need to pay a fee for the use of the land, but, if you’re planning on lighting a fire, erecting a tent, and consuming booze, you’ll be required to pay a deposit to the council for an application for permission.

You will need to submit the application for permission in writing to the council. They can ask for more information and even reject your application, but we suggest making sure to include a detailed plan to ensure you don’t damage the land and have someone to remove all waste from the area.

An example would be to include that you’ll be hiring flooring and astroturf to protect the surface area, and there would be no digging into the ground because you’d hire our aluminium frame marquee tent.

An important detail is that your application for hosting a special event will need to be made at least 21 days before the actual date. So, don’t dilly-dally. You will also need to submit this in writing with contact details.

If this is all a little overwhelming, we can help you step-by-step, just drop us an email at