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By the by: How to access local by-laws

What are by-laws?

Ignorance of the law is no excuse - which is all well and good - if only you can find the law!  This is definitely the case for municipal by-laws, so we have packed a list of links together to assist you find them.

A by-law is a law that is passed by the Council of a municipality to regulate the affairs and the services it provides within its area of jurisdiction. A municipality derives the powers to pass a by-law from the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, which gives certain specified powers and competencies to local government as set out in Part B of Schedules 4 and Part B of 5 to the Constitution.

As a result of this you have to consult all the individual municipalities to find them.

A very helpful organisation, Openbylaws is trying to consolidate these on an open platform. There are currently limited municipalities listed, but have a look at

How to find the by laws

There are a few steps to follow – be warned it involves a bit of geography...


Step 1: Find yourself on the map

The best place to go is the local government website:

Select a province,  for example


Step 2: Find where you are in province

Image courtesy


Step 3: Find your district and link to the website

If there is a website... you might not be in luck.

Step 4: Search by-laws on the district municipality site

These are usually associated with the legislation menu but not always. Of course there is no set website design either. There are not always by laws listed so be warned.

Step 5: Revisit Frequently

Copy this link to your website browser's favourites bar and set a reminder to visit at least monthly for changes.


See what by-laws we discovered...

We did the internet trawling and found the following selected municipalities:



Cape Town:






Drakenstein - Paarl, Wellington, Gouda, Saron and Hermon:


Buffalo City:


District Capricorn 


Mopani District 


Sekhukune district 


Waterberg District 


Vhembe District 


Eastern Cape 


Ehlanzeni District 


So now that you have them?

As most of the by-laws address the municipal services, there are often requirements relating to waste, noise and hygiene matters.


You will need to read and understand the requirements and then ensure you address these in the relevant PRP’s for food safety. The by-laws should also be considered in your environmental management system too.


Don’t forget some legislation is at provincial level…but that’s another article