Is This Electric Fence Legal and Compliant?

Can you spot the electric fence violations in this picture?

illegal fence install numbered

We spotted this electric fence installation recently and were shocked to think that a compliance certificate might have been issued. The alternative is that the owners or administrators of the wall used an unqualified electric fence installer, in which case there would be no compliance certificate.

Either way, this electric fence is downright illegal!

If you notice more faults than the ones we have pointed out, please list them in the comments below.

We have numbered and listed the problems that we can see in this picture below. Note that the man walking in the picture is slightly built and not very tall.

We have also included extracts from the regulations to explain the faults/non-compliance. These are in italics:


Continue reading below:



1. Wall height

A wall-top electric fence must be mounted on a wall with a minimum height of 1,500 mm (1.5 m)

2. There are no warning signs

electric fence warning sign

The following regulations apply to electric fence warning signs:
a. Size shall be at least 100 mm × 200 mm;
b. Background colour on both sides shall be yellow;
c. A symbol of a black hand touching a wire with flashes (See pic above);
d. Warning signs must be placed in clearly visible positions and 1.5 m to 2 m above ground level;
e. Not more than 200 mm from each corner or bend in a straight length of fence;
f. Shall be displayed on an access gate if present, and not more than 200 mm on either side of access area on which an electric fence is erected;
g. Spacing between warning signs must not exceed 10 m in urban areas;
h. Spacing for warning signs on game and rural agricultural fences should not exceed 100 m.

3. Height of live wire above ground

This is very specific in the regulations:
a. The live wires must be at least 1,8 m above the level of natural ground at any point.
b. Wall­-top brackets are to be installed at a maximum of 3,000 mm apart.
c. The maximum distance between wires on the bracket must be 100 mm.
d. The electric fence must be mounted on top of a wall that is at least 1.5 m high.
e. A wall-top fence must be a minimum 1,500 mm above ground (ie at least 1.5 m).

4. Distance from public walkway and no barrier fence for protection

The distance from the public walkway is inadequate and there isn’t a barrier fence to protect the public using the walkway.

The general public should be protected by a barrier fence from making inadvertent contact with a free-standing (stand-alone) electric fence.
The barrier fence must have the following features:
a. A minimum height of 1500 mm;
b. At least one dimension in any opening should not be greater than 130 mm;
c. The separation between the electric fence and the barrier fence should be:
(i)  within the range of 100 mm to 200 mm or greater than 1,000 mm where at least one dimension in each opening of the physical barrier is    not greater 
than 130 mm
(ii)  greater than 1,000 mm where any opening in the physical barrier has all 
dimensions greater than 50 mm

5. Erected barrier extends over property boundary line

One can assume that the wall was built on the boundary line and it is clearly visible in the picture that the brackets and live wires stick out, away from the wall, into the public space.

As you can see in the picture, further down the road there is no flower bed alongside the wall (see no. 6 in the picture). The brackets and electric fence live wires clearly extend over the walkway and even a child could easily make contact with these live wires.

6. Further down the electric wires extend into the pathway

Where the flowerbed ends the live wires of the electric fence stick out dangerously into the pedestrian walkway.

Other considerations relating to installation of electric fencing

We have only looked at the installation from the point of view of what can be seen in this picture. There are, additionally, other aspects of the installation that must be adhered to including:

As required by the Act, the energizer must comply with SANS 60335­-2­-76 and the supplier of the product must be able to produce a certificate issued by an internationally recognised laboratory to verify this.

All comments are welcome.

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  1. Richard Bleeker

    This is a shocking installation!

  2. Mainly people get fences installed by people that can not do the job,also not knowing specifications on fences or what energizers to use for aplication of fence. I experiance this on a regular basis on existing fences that the energizer is too weak,eart spikes lack and all safty is inadequate for both parties.

    Maybe the reason is because companies that do courses are too expensive for installers,or courses thet was supposed to be done by gov for R 150,00 never happened.

    On my instalations or fixing I use an accredited person to do my COC,for my safty and for the clients safty.

    In our country you go to a Builders Warehouse,and there are guys standing for painting ,building,plumbing etc,and people use them for jobs,after they were quoted by professional people,the same goes for garage doors,gate motors and even roller shutters.

  3. I do not see any earth spikes.

  4. Not electrical, but rather from structural point of view: It looks like the wall was originally designed as a lower wall, with specific pier intervals. Then the walls and piers have been extended vertically by about 600mm without additional lateral support. The piers look like it may comply in size, but for the new height, the spacing may be to large to comply. Looks like more than 5m from the pic.

  5. i see wires and insulators … I know its an electric fence. i have a problem with the factt that the SAPS are to useless to pevent crime, I pay their costs with my tax dollar, but still need private, expensive security before I feel safe. Lets not forget the need to pay for education and medica, both of which should be pad for by our tax dollar!

  6. I know the location of this installation, the installation was fully compliant until the new road was built and sidewalks were raised by close to a meter. The complex is currently in process of raising the wall after which the electric fence will also be raised. Should they have removed it anyone would’ve been able to very easily climb over the wall.

  7. Dave, while many would agree with what you say about the lack of enforcement by authorities, your target is unfortunately misplaced. The municipal authority is the one responsible for compliance, not the SAPS.

  8. Dave: I agree that our tax money is not paying for our security, but a regulation is a regulation. It cannot be that we only cry out to regulation violations when it suites us. This fence would be more secure and preventative if it was installed legally, on top in any case. It’s circumventable like it is now.

  9. This is really dumb. The winds in the Cape will make these fences like sailboats and they will move around in the wind and BREAK.

    Who thinks up this crap?

  10. What if you install an electric fence to COC spec and well you cant write the ticket is this stil illegal fence?


    Good day – in terms of Point 5 & 6; where is is specifically indicated in a regulations that is is not allowed

  12. My walls are about eye height and I live next to a public park. I often will be in the garden and notice peoples heads pop up and look into my garden. The wall has an electric fence already installed and I’m looking at ways to extend the wall higher. One option I’m considering is to just mount a privacy screen on the back of the electric fence poles by using 3M double grip Velcro tape so I can easily remove it for fence maintenance.
    Would it be be legal to mount a polyester type material on the rear (non wire side) of the fence brackets?
    I can foresee in strong wind conditions that the privacy screen might make contact with the fence wire but the screen wouldn’t be conductive since it is made of a plastic material.

  13. It’s not a solid structure, so it should be legal.

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