ANC Caucus welcomes the appointment of two SAHRC Women Commissioners and the passing of three crucial Bills to fight Gender-Based Violence
3 June 2021
The ANC Parliamentary Caucus welcomes the appointment of Ms Philile Ntuli and Ms Fatima Chohan as full-time commissioners in the South African Human Rights Commission for a period of seven years.
The appointment of Ms Ntuli and Ms Cohan was recommended by the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services after the committee was requested by the SAHRC to initiate a process to fill the vacancies arising from the expiry of Commissioner MS Ameermia’s term of office and after the passing away of Deputy Chairperson, P Jana. The committee undertook a rigorous recruitment, shortlisting and interviewing process and agreed that Ms Ntuli and Ms Cohan are suitable candidates to fill the vacancies.
We welcome the appointment of these two female Commissioners in the Chapter 9 Institution and believe that they will be of great value to the Institution. We further appreciate the recognition of female leaders as critical role players in the transformation of our country.
The National Assembly has also today, 3 June 2021, passed three crucial pieces of legislation that are aimed at fighting Gender-Based Violence and Femicide, namely; The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act Amendment Bill (B16-2020); The Domestic Violence Amendment Bill (B20-2020); and the Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill (B17-2020).
The adoption of these important Bills is a milestone for South Africa as the country is continuously faced with the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide. This also comes at a time where the effects of Covid-19 and lockdown has increased the number of GBV&F incidents and the use of technology, which has been taken into consideration in the amendment of these bills, will greatly assist South Africans to access legal assistance without having to be physically present in police stations and courts. These Bills will ensure that the rights and lives of women, children, the LGBTQIA+ community and the society at large, are protected and perpetrators of these gruesome crimes are served with befitting sentences.
1. The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act Amendment Bill
This Amendment Bill seeks to amend the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, 2007, so as to extend the ambit of the offence of incest; introduce a new offence of sexual intimidation, further regulate the inclusion of particulars of persons in the National Register for Sex Offenders and extend the list of persons who are to be protected in terms of Chapter 6 of the Act.
It further seeks to extend the list of persons who are entitled to submit applications to the Registrar of the National Register for Sex Offenders and further regulate the removal of particulars of persons from the National Register for Sex Offenders.
The adoption of this Bill reiterates the resolve taken by government to have legislation that protects the rights and dignity of sexual offence victims and survivors and ensures that justice is served. It also provides legal grounds for any person that witnesses or believes such offence is taking place, to report the incident to the police, failing which, they may be found guilty. This will give effect to the work of the Sexual Offences Courts and contribute positively in the prosecution and conviction of sexual offenders.
2. The Domestic Violence Amendment Bill (B20-2020)
The Domestic Violence Amendment Bill seeks to amend the Domestic Violence Act, 1998 so as to provide for the manner in which acts of domestic violence and matters related thereto must be dealt with, to further regulate protection orders in response to acts of domestic violence and amend provisions of certain laws.
This Amendment Bill will provide for easier access for those intending to obtain protection orders to access them through the internet. The amendments will expand the scope of the definition of domestic violence, which will greatly contribute to the change in behaviour that is needed in our families and society.
3. Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill (B17-2020)
The Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill seeks to amend; the Magistrates’ Courts Act, 1944, so as to provide for the appointment of intermediaries and the giving of evidence through intermediaries in proceedings other than criminal proceedings and the giving of evidence through audio-visual link in proceedings other than criminal proceedings.
The Bill also seeks to amend the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977, so as to further regulate the granting and cancellation of bail,the giving of evidence by means of closed-circuit television or similar electronic media and the giving of evidence by a witness with physical, psychological or mental disability.
It further aims to amend the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1997, so as to further regulate sentences in respect of offences that have been committed against vulnerable persons; and the Superior Courts Act, 2013, so as to provide for the appointment of intermediaries and the giving of evidence through intermediaries in proceedings other than criminal proceedings.
This will enable victims or the families of the victims (if the victim is deceased), to have a chance to be heard by the courts. The amendments include the use of audio-visuals, a great step in protecting the victims from secondary victimization so they can be able to speak freely without intimidation and protect their mental and psychological well-being.
The ANC Caucus welcomes and supports the passing of these bills as this strengthens our resolve to fight GBV&F. We also commend the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services for the tremendous work that it has done in drafting and speeding up the process to bring this legislation to the National Assembly.
The Bills will be sent to the National Council of Provinces for Concurrence.
Issued by the Office of the ANC Chief Whip, Hon. Pemmy Majodina