The Legislative Programme of the Department of Social Development: briefing

Social Development

19 March 2002
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Meeting report

PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
20 March 2002
THE LEGISLATIVE PROGRAMME OF THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: BRIEFING

Chairperson: Mr Saloojee

Documents handed out:

Briefing to Portfolio Committee on Social Development on o Legislative Programme of Department of Social Development for 2002

Probation Services Amendment Bill

SUMMARY


The presentation outlined eight Bills that the Department of Social Development planned to introduce this year. The Bills were explained and tentative dates were proposed for the processing of the Bills. Questions for clarity were mainly directed to some clauses of the Probation Amendment Bill because a copy of it was distributed in the meeting. The committee was concerned about the urgency towards the general welfare of children.

MINUTES



The Chairperson introduced Ms Bester, Mr du Preez and Mr Madonsela all from the Department of Social Development. Later on there was Mr du Toit and Mr de Smit from national and Western Cape government respectively. The Chairperson gave Mr du Preez the floor to lead the presentation.

Mr du Preez indicated that the Department envisaged introducing six laws in Parliament during 2002. These laws are:

Probation Services Amendment Bill
Fund-raising Amendment Bill
Child Care Bill
Social Security Bill
Treatment of Substance Abuse Bill
Status of Older Persons Bill

He said that the first Bill would be tabled in Parliament during April and the second and third bill would be tabled in May. The other bills would be tabled later in 2002 and that they had to be published for comment and certified by the State Law Advisor by 8 August 2002. He explained the process of the Bills (See Appendix A)

QUESTIONS


The Chairperson asked the Department of give the committee the discussion document on the Child Care Bill by the Law Commission. Mr du Preez indicated that the Law Commission had not yet finalised the name of the Bill. Ms Bester assured the committee that it would receive the discussion document.

Ms Ghandi asked if assistant probation officers (as set out in Section 1(a)) of the Probation Amendment Bill) would receive training. Mr du Toit said that they would receive training and that the Department was using probation officers across the country for to train assistant probation officers. He further added that the Department was planning to formalise and professionalise the duty of assistant probation offers in future.

Ms Chalmers asked what was the difference in the job description of assistant probation officers and probation officers. Mr du Preeze indicated that by law the assistant probation officer couldn’t have the same functions as the probation officers. At the qualification level, probation officers hold a degree whereas assistant probation officers hold a matric certificate. At practical level he read the eight duties of the assistant probation officer from Section four of the principal Act.

Ms. Kalyan asked how in Section 3(f) of the Bill the definition of a probation officer included an assistant probation officer. She also commented that it was not wise to discuss the Bill without the principal Act. Mr du Toit said that the final bill would clear out that confusion.

Ms Ghandi commented that she was happy that restorative justice was part of the Bill and asked what was the difference between a probation officer and an authorised probation officer. Mr du Toit said that he was not sure

Ms Ghandi also asked if the government had capacity for mandatory assessment of an arrested child.  Mr. du Toit said that in Cape Town the assessment was done within twenty-four hours and that they have consulted with the Departments of Justice and Correctional Services and discovered that it was crucial to assess a child within forty-eight hours. He also said that the forty-eight hours clause would also be included in the Child Justice Bill. Ms Bester added that they have approached Treasury to put ten probation officers in each province.

Ms Cupido wanted to know if the Department of Social Development will be responsible for restorative justice or if it will be the Department of Correctional Services.  Mr. de Smit said that usually the Department of Social Development would be responsible before a child is sentenced.

Ms Cupido asked which department would be responsible in a case of awaiting trial. Mr. de Smit said that Department of Social Development would be responsible if a child was awaiting trial.  Ms. Bester commented that at some times the responsibilities of Department of Social Development and the Department Correctional Services overlap.

Ms Chalmers wanted to know how house arrest of a child was done. Mr de Smit said that during house arrest a child would be placed under the custody of his/her parents or guardian and would be monitored by probation officer.

Ms Cupido asked which department to approach for children who were awaiting trial for more than four years in the Eastern Cape. Mr. du Toit responded by indicating that there was an urgent need to expedite the Child Justice Bill and the Probation Bill to remedy such situations. He advised Ms. Cupido to approach the Eastern Cape Department of Social Development.
Ms Ghandi asked what was the difference between the National Development Agency’s  (NDA) funds and the relief funds. Ms Bester said that the NDA funds were used to support civil society in uprooting poverty and that relief funds were used in cases of disaster relief. The Chairperson asked if the NDA funds were used to initiate economic self-sufficiency. Ms Bester agreed but indicated that they supported projects that were initiated by civil society.

The Chairperson requested the documents as evidence of the NDA’s programme and projects. Ms Bester indicated that the NDA’s strategic plan was in progress.

Ms Chalmers asked if people were accessing NDA’s funds. Ms Bester agreed and said that there were approximately over three thousand projects that they were supporting. The Chairperson commented that the committee needed to see the NDA’s work at grassroots level. Ms. Bester informed the committee that Treasury tabled the NDA’s annual report.

Ms. Ghandi expressed her concern about the officials who encourage older people to buy undocumented funeral policies.  Ms Bester agreed and said that they tried to “appeal to pay contractor’s morality” but to no avail. She said they would try to sort out the issue of loan sharks too.

Ms Chalmers asked if there was any provision in the contract that prohibited contractors from deducting money from pensioners. Ms. Bester said there was no such provision, but that in Eastern Cape they were trying to finalise the service according to national norms and standards. The Chairperson urged the committee to be proactive in the matter and to develop a good sense of what was happening and to ask the loan and funeral policy companies to address the committee. The meeting was adjourned.






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