Bizarre Legislation – The Halloween Edition - Part Two

Halloween is all about the bizarre, the weird, the wonderful, the supernatural and the scary. 

It is part of what makes the holiday strangely fun. Telling ghost stories and watching horror movies sort of go hand-in-hand with the holiday. Almost like a good scare does you well.

Speaking of which -

Did you hear the one where…. 

A young bachelor moved into a fancy new house that had just been renovated. He was doing well in his career and wanted to show off his success to his friends and family. On his first day in his new home, he awoke to the sound of running water. Confused, he ran around the house and found the bathtub faucet running on full blast in his bathroom. As he was still single, he was baffled – who could have turned the water on? He shrugged it off – “old pipes” he thought, and he carried on with his day. But, a week later, he once again awoke to the sound of running water. Only this time, it was all the faucets in the house. Not a coincidence. A little frazzled, he called a local repairman to come over and investigate the problem. As it turned out, none of the pipes in the house were broken. The repairman seemed visibly shaken. “What’s wrong?” the bachelor asked. “The woman who lived here before you,” said the repairman, “she drowned in that bathtub. When the police found her a day later, the faucets in her bathroom were still running.”


Once again, and in the spirit of Halloween, we thought we would have a little ghoulish fun…

Taking a look at some of the more bizarre laws from around the globe that seem too strange to be true.

Ghosts and witches are still not roaming the halls of our law offices. Yet.

Strap in, grab some popcorn and let’s investigate some legal mysteries.

Witches fly low in Swaziland 

In 2013, The Sunday Times and The Washington Times (amongst many other publications around the world) featured a really bizarre story.

“Witches cannot fly their broomsticks above 150 meters in Swaziland”.

Yes, you read that correctly – witches and broomsticks.

The then marketing and corporate affairs director of the Civil Aviation Authority, Sabelo Dlamini was asked to explain the arrest of a private detective who was flying a toy helicopter – similar to a drone – to gather information. The detective was charged with operating an unregistered aircraft under the Civil Aviation Act 2009 (“CAA”). The CAA also forbids toy helicopters and children’s kites from ascending too high into the country’s airspace, carrying with it a hefty fine of R500 000 or arrest if someone is found to contravene the CAA. Including witches.

When asked to explain the legislation by Swazi press, Dlamini is reported as saying that –

"A witch on a broomstick should not fly above the [150m] limit,"

No penalties exist for witches flying below 150 meters, however.

At the time, people were unsure how serious Dlamini was being about this. Because the fact is, witchcraft in Swaziland is taken quite seriously.

Upon looking through the Act, we can only assume that the imposition of penalties for witches was used as a mere comparison. There is no mention of witches in the Act. Unfortunately.

In fact, The Sunday Times sets out that –

“Witches’ broomsticks are considered similar to any heavier-than-air transportation device that is airborne”.

Witches on broomsticks? Alas only in fairy tales it seems….

No Acts exist in Swaziland governing the flight path of witches.

Bigfoot is protected in Washington

When we read this, we must admit that it took a moment to understand what was before us. A creature that is thought to be the stuff of myth and legend is actually afforded protection in America.

No way. 

In Scamania County, Washington, the Sasquatch, Bigfoot, Yeti or the Giant Hairy Ape has been sighted many times over. In fact, Scamania is often considered to be a refuge for Bigfoot.

So much so that in the 1960’s “the county commissioners decided that an ordinance needed to be in place to protect the elusive creature and keep Bigfoot seekers from shooting a bearded elk hunter tramping around in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The law was originally passed in 1969, amended in 1984 and today harming Sasquatch within Skamania County’s borders could cost you one year of jail time and/or a $1000 fine” (Sasquatch sightings).

Now, we must admit that we were utterly intrigued. So, we undertook a deep dive to see whether we could find this Bigfoot protecting ordinance. To our dismay (and disappointment) no such ordinance can be found.

But upon coming across a National Geographic article titled “You Can't Kill Bigfoot in Washington and More Odd Animal Laws”, it kind of made sense –

“the defense fund included it on their list because “we feel [it] points to the larger commonalities” between people and other animals, Rosengard says. 
In other words, we and our wild kin are all sentient creatures that deserve legal protection.”

It also seems plausible that the ordinance was initially drafted with the intention of safeguarding the bearded elk in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Not really Bigfoot.

Fair enough.

Is Bigfoot protected? Well, kind of, sort of, but in truth - not really.

Suspicious Salmon in England

Well, it’s not the salmon that are suspicious.

What would suspicious salmon even look like you may be wondering? We know we did.

There is a law that exists in the United Kingdom which prohibits the suspicious handling of salmon. True story.

Section 32 of the Salmon Act 1986 sets out that –

“Handling fish in suspicious circumstances.
(1)Subject to subsections (3) and (4) below, a person shall be guilty of an offence if, at a time when he believes or it would be reasonable for him to suspect that a relevant offence has at any time been committed in relation to any fish to which this section applies, he receives that fish, or undertakes or assists in its retention, removal or disposal, or if he arranges to do so.
(1A) This section applies to—
(a)salmon, trout, eels, lampreys, smelt and freshwater fish; and
(b)fish of such other description as may be specified for the purposes of this section by order under section 40A of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975.]
(2) For the purposes of this section an offence is a relevant offence in relation to a fish to which this section applies] if—
(a)it is committed by taking, killing, or landing [or selling,] that fish, either in England and Wales or in Scotland; or
(b)that fish is taken, killed, or landed, or sold, either in England and Wales or in Scotland, in the course of the commission of the offence.”

At first glance, it seems comical when trying to picture what the suspicious handling of fish (including salmon) would look like.

But, in practice it makes perfect sense. Essentially, it’s illegal to take possession of or to dispose of any fish (including salmon) in circumstances where the individual concerned believes or could reasonably believe that the salmon has been illegally fished (i.e., poached/stolen). The intention behind the Act is to ensure that stolen salmon is difficult to sell, so that fisheries can operate without fear of theft.

Suspicious salmon – yip! There is a law for them.

Drunk on a Cow in Scotland

When we read this in the article titled The 9 bizarre laws that still exist in Scotland – and you’ve probably already broken some, we must admit that we did laugh out loud.

Can you imagine?

Then again, after researching all the Bizarre Laws for this Halloween Edition, it didn’t really surprise us.

The Licensing Act 1872 at Section 12, set’s the following out –

“Every person . . . who is drunk while in charge on any highway or other public place of any carriage, horse, cattle, or steam engine, or who is drunk when in possession of any loaded firearms,... shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding forty shillings, or in the discretion of the court to imprisonment . . . for any term not exceeding one month.”

It therefore appears that a law does – in fact – exist stating that a drunk person cannot be “in charge” of a cow, horse, carriage, or steam engine. Which is quite a relief. A drunk person on a cow or operating a steam engine? That would be cause for concern.

So at least this is properly regulated.

We must admit that establishing the legitimacy of these Bizarre Laws has been a tremendous amount of fun. It just goes to show you what can be found if you dig deep enough.

There is – almost – a piece of legislation for everything.

That said, we wish you a fun Halloween. Trick or Treat safely!

Please always keep in mind that if you have any questions on the information we have set out above or have a personal issue which you want to discuss with a suitably qualified legal professional, do not hesitate to contact us at NVDB Attorneys.

We are a law firm that considers honesty to be core to our business. We are a law firm that will provide you with clear advice and smart strategies - always keeping your best interests at heart.

The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. One should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in this site without seeking legal or other professional advice. The contents of this site contain general information and may not reflect current legal developments or address one’s peculiar situation. We disclaim all liability for actions one may take or fail to take based on any content on this site.

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