NA passes Gender-Based Violence Bills

NA passes Gender-Based Violence Bills
09 Jun 2021

The national assembly has passed the three gender-based violence bills and sent them to the national council of provinces for concurrence.

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act Amendment Bill, Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill and Domestic Violence Amendment Bill were tabled in parliament in 2020.

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act Amendment Bill was tabled in August 2020.

The bill aims to amend the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act of 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;
  • extend the list of persons who are to be protected in terms of Chapter 6 of the Act;
  • extend the list of persons who are entitled to submit applications to the Registrar of the National Register for Sex Offenders;
  • further regulate the removal of particulars of persons from the National Register for Sex Offenders; and
  • further regulate the reporting duty of persons who are aware that sexual offences have been committed against persons who are vulnerable, and to provide for matters connected therewith.

Cabinet approved the bill for tabling in parliament at the beginning of August 2020.

In a statement, cabinet pointed out that the bill amends the National Register for Sex Offenders by broadening its scope to not only protect children and mentally disabled persons but all vulnerable groups.

Persons listed in the register are compelled to disclose this information when they submit applications to work with vulnerable groups.

According to the bill’s memorandum, the bill forms part of South Africa’s commitment to address the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide that have reached endemic proportions in the country.

The Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill was tabled in September 2020.

The bill aims 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; the oath and competency of intermediaries and the giving of evidence through audiovisual link in proceedings other than criminal proceedings;
  • 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; the giving of evidence by a witness with physical, psychological or mental disability; the appointment, oath and competency of intermediaries and the right of a complainant in a domestic related offence to participate in parole proceedings;
  • 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; the oath and competency of intermediaries; and the giving of evidence through audiovisual link in proceedings other than criminal proceedings and to provide for matters connected therewith.

According to the bill’s memorandum, the primary aim of the bill is to amend various acts designed to address gender-based violence and offences committed against vulnerable persons and provide for additional procedures to reduce secondary victimisation of vulnerable persons in court proceedings.

The Domestic Violence Amendment Bill was tabled in September 2020.

The justice and constitutional development department called for comment on the bill in March 2020.

The bill aims to amend the Domestic Violence Act, 1998, so as to:

  • amend and insert certain definitions;
  • further provide for the manner in which acts of domestic violence and matters related thereto, must be dealt with;
  • further regulate protection orders in response to acts of domestic violence;
  • amend provisions of certain laws; and
  • provide for matters connected therewith.

According to the bill’s memorandum, it seeks to amend the act in order to address practical challenges, gaps and anomalies that have manifested since the act was put into operation in 1999.

The amendments also seek to enhance the application of the act in order to protect victims of gender-based violence and other vulnerable persons against domestic violence.

Amendments also aim to align the act with the Protection from Harassment Act of 2011.

The bill’s explanatory summary was published in Government Gazette 43595 on 7 August 2020.

Cabinet approved the bill at the beginning of August 2020 for tabling in parliament.

According to the cabinet statement, the proposed legislation facilitates the obtaining of protection orders against acts of domestic violence via electronic means.

It also obliges the social development and health departments to “provide certain services to victims of domestic violence and aligns the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, 1998 (Act 116 of 1998) with the provisions of the Protection from Harassment Act, 2011 (Act 17 of 2011)”.

The select committee on security and justice will process the bills.

See also:

(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)
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