Home South African Justice Committee adopts legislation aimed at fighting gender-based violence

Justice Committee adopts legislation aimed at fighting gender-based violence

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Committee chairperson Bulelani Magwanishe said levels of GBVF in the country were among the highest in the world and were seen as a second pandemic.

File picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

THE PORTFOLIO Committee on Justice and Correctional Services has adopted two pieces of legislation aimed at strengthening laws fighting gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF).

Committee chairperson Bulelani Magwanishe said levels of GBVF in the country were among the highest in the world and were seen as a second pandemic.

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act proposes amendments to the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007, being one of several legislative measures identified to strengthen South Africa’s response to GBVF, in particular the legislation regulating the National Register for Sex Offenders.

The bill aims to expand the scope of the National Register for Sex Offenders (NRSO) to include the particulars of all sex offenders and not only for sex offences against children and people who are mentally disabled, and to expand the list of people who are to be protected to include other vulnerable people. It also aims to expand the ambit of the crime of incest, and introduce a new offence of sexual intimidation.

Magwanishe said the committee considered making use of the SAPS criminal records system as an alternative to the NRSO, which had experienced capacity constraints in the past, but decided against this after being reassured that the NRSO was able to take on the expanded function.

“After much deliberation, the committee is of the view that the register should remain with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development for now but will require careful and regular monitoring going forward.”

In terms of the Domestic Violence Bill, Magwanishe said that although legal measures couldn’t be regarded as an all-encompassing solution to address the complex social phenomenon of domestic violence, the state was obliged to promote legislation to afford effective protection to victims of violence in a domestic relationship.

“This bill seeks to address practical challenges, gaps and anomalies which have manifested since the act came into operation. It also aims to broaden the conduct that is regarded as domestic violence, and impose obligations on people to report domestic violence to appropriate functionaries, and extend the powers of members of the SAPS and peace officers to arrest people in connection with domestic violence.

“It further regulates the obtaining of protection orders against domestic violence and the powers of the court with regard to the welfare of affected children.”

Political Bureau