TV License - do I stick it to the Dragon or ignore?

I need some advice. I bought a TV for a family member - maybe 10 years ago - and had to get a license to do so. I renewed the license once or twice but ended up giving the blimmin thing to a colleague maybe 3 years later. Someone phoned me a year after that and demanded that I pay the license. I confirmed in writing that I did not own a TV.

Someone contacted me maybe 3 years later, out of the blue, and demanded that I pay the arrears. I again explained that I don’t own one. They instructed me to go to a police station and make a statement to this effect. I never got round to it. Frankly, a fluking TV is just the one thing I don’t even think about. I had been living in a tent on the banks of the Orange River at Vioolsdrift for 6 months at that point, so it is conceivable that thoughts of TV licenses would not be abundant in that setting … yes?

Lately, I have been getting increasingly threatening SMS’s and now a threat that it is going to court or something.

I’ve only owned 1 TV in my life, and the last thing I watched on that TV was the election 25 years ago. I don’t watch TV. I don’t want or need one. What do I have to do to make them understand this? I won’t pay just because the SABC ASSUMES that if you have a household, you own a TV.

How can I make this go away? I seriously don’t have the energy to deal with these idiots.

I wouldn’t pay any attention at all. For one thing, are you sure it’s the SABC that’s coming after you, as opposed to some scammer? But even if it is the SABC, I don’t see that they can do anything more to you than occasional threatening letters. With this sort of thing, I would actually enjoy the whole circus… :slight_smile:

Ignore letters, emails, SMSs. If they phone you tell them to piss off. If they tell you you have to make affidavits, go to police stations, post offices, constitutional courts–tell them to piss off; you don’t have to do any of those things. That is the policy I have followed, and they’ve given up now.

What the SABC do is sell their ‘debt book’ (which is a misnomer since the SABC licence fee is NOT debt) to a firm of debt collectors for, say, 10c on the rand. Then the debt collectors hound you for the full amount, using all the corporate bullying tactics at their command. These firms claim to be attorneys, but their ethics are non-existent. They are certainly not above lying (for example they’ll tell you they are going to blacklist you at the credit bureaux, and you’ll never be able to get credit again, knowing full well that the credit bureaux will tell them to piss off if they try), and a miscellany of other bullying tactics.

Perhaps if they call you, tell them that you are going to lay a complaint of harassment against the attorneys with the KZN (that’s where they all seem to be based) Law Society.

Yup. You don’t have to do a thing. If they have an issue with you, it is up to them to prove their case.

Perhaps if they call you, tell them that you are going to lay a complaint of harassment against the attorneys with the KZN (that's where they all seem to be based) Law Society.

With this sort of thing, I am always extremely tempted to toy with them a bit. I’ll even happily appear in court, where I will say nothing at all. They have to prove their case.

Incidentally, with traffic offenses it is actually the same. Of course, if the cop who issues the ticket is there, they’ll likely believe his version of what happened, but what are the chances that he will be? If you ever get a hefty fine, it may well be worth appearing in court rather than paying it, and then insist on cross-examining the issuing officer. He will of course not be there, after which you could likely successfully call for the case to be dismissed.

Actually, the SABC doesn’t sell TV licence debt because legally it’s not allowed to do so (the licence fees “belong” to the state, not the SABC, which is charged with collecting and disbursing them). Instead, in the past it has made use of debt collection agencies that operated on a contingency basis where they would receive a commission that depended on how much they managed to collect. About a year ago, the SABC stopped making use of debt collectors and began its own collections campaigns.

Like income tax and VAT, TV licence fees are a legal issue, not a contractual one, and so do not constitute debt in any usual sense of that word. Falling into arrears with TV licence fees is akin to paying too little income tax: The “debt” never prescribes and the penalties for avoidance are similar.

At least, that’s the theory.

In practice, it’s a question of enforcement and poorly designed systems. Unlike SARS, the SABC can’t simply instruct your employer to make certain wage deductions or just dip into your bank account. To do such things, the SABC is required to follow certain legal requirements such as getting a Court Order.

Currently, the SABC has near enough 8.8-million account holders. Over 70% of these are in arrears with their licence fees. That’s 6.2-million people who aren’t paying, which is more than twice as many as aren’t paying e-Toll, and a healthy portion of those accounts are in arrears to the tune of several thousands. The total licence fees arrears come to over R20-billion.

Moreover, ever since the Hlaudi circus came to town, the number of non-payers has been escalating much more rapidly and the SABC bean counters are definitely feeling the pinch. Ergo, the collectors’ aggression.

But ask yourself this: Do you know anyone, or have you even reliably heard of anyone, who has been charged with failure to pay TV licence fees? Never mind prosecuted for such a thing? After all, from 6.2-million offenders, it shouldn’t be hard to target a few high-profile cases, but this doesn’t seem to have happened, ever.

So, don’t fret about it and don’t admit anything when they call you because you’re in lots of good company.


If you don’t have the TV any more, email the SABC and tell them so. They may well request an affidavit. Get one. Then request an updated statement that reflects the licence fees for the years that you owned the device, and pay it. Then make sure you never own a TV again.


If you don't have the TV any more, email the SABC and tell them so. They may well request an affidavit.

I did email them right at the start, I think it was in 2009. They did not request an affidavit until 2 or more years later. I’m inclined to think their moment had passed by then.

You don't have to do a thing. If they have an issue with you, it is up to them to prove their case.

That was my conclusion up to now.

However, I want to jump up and down on someone’s head to punish their sheer arrogance - the assumption that I have a TV and/or use one infuriates me. I get along just great without a TV, thank you. Just like I get along fine without facesh#t, twatter, instarubbish, pinpoephol, snapk$k and all of the rest. I am heavily involved in social media marketing, and just like the whole ‘TV-culture’, the whole lot nauseates me. rant off

Only peoply born in 1940’s pay tv licence and e-toll. The adherence to government policy was moerred into them from a young age and I can sympathise. Block the numbers if it shows and burn the notices. Alternatively tell them you are dead and can go check with home affairs for the certificate if they are desperate.

Perhaps it’s time for TV Licences Must Fall. Then we have an excuse to go burn down the SABC.

The building is innocent, and as it stands it has only one employee currently anyway. Another local soapie with a far fetched script. A bit like the reality show called Parlaiment!

That’s no reason not to have a #TVlicences must fall.

If you can dream up the label, it should, can, and must fall.

Yup. Television must be decolonized!

A court has accepted a 60-year-old man’s attempt to invoke the ancient right to trial by combat, rather than pay a R5000 fine for not paying his TV Licence.

Keith Snyman remained adamant yesterday that his right to fight a champion nominated by the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) was still valid under South African Human rights legislation. He said it would have been a “reasonable” way to settle the matter.

Magistrates sitting at The Pretoria magistrates Court on Friday had accepted his offer to take on a clerk from the SABC with “spears,knives or heavy hammers”.Unfortunately, the SABC’s health and safety policy restricted them in the process of nominating a champion to fight Mr Snyman and had to concede the case against him. The SABC also had to bare all the costs of the case and pay Mr Snyman compensation for his time spent dealing with the matter.

This news has been going viral because there is now a legal way to avoid paying for the much despised TV Licence in SA. The SABC has been trying to keep this story from going mainstream because it will alert the world that you dont have to pay your TV Licence.


Never mind TV licenses - fewer and fewer people are bothering with TV at all. Which is why they now want to institute a license for computers and tablets, because that is what modern people are watching. A neat way to extract more money from the public.

Read my lips though: they can go fuck themselves. I ain’t paying.

What few people know is that SARS has been “taxing” all PC monitors as TV’s all this time, you know, to protect the booming local television manufacturing industry. Of course, there were ways found to pay the tax and simultaneously not pay the tax. Now, nowhere does it say any of this money is earmarked for the SABC, or any local stimulus other than filling govt coffers… which seems super likely to be the true reason this tax exists. It just goes to show once again that to the govt you are a cow and any teat that can be milked, shall be.

SABC has been on my case lately about my license too. Guess a duel shall be requested when the time arrives. :smiley:

I for one didn’t know about the monitor tax. On the whole I actually don’t even care that much either - it’s a once-off tax. If they put the same kind of tax on TVs and I wanted one, I’d pay with a smile. But I ain’t paying a monthly fee to rent my own fucking monitor. What do I get in return? For municipal taxes you get certain services in return. Same aught to count for monitor taxes. So tell you what: I’d happily pay a monthly monitor license if I get proper broadband internet in return.

What I find really galling is not so much that I have to pay tax, but that, despite the fact that something like 5% of the population is carrying the entire 95% of the rest through taxes, that same 5% is routinely demonized as “monopoly capitalists who won’t share their wealth.” As if people who hand over 40% (or whatever the maximum rate is nowadays) of their income to the poor and downtrodden are not sharing.