Domestic Violence Act, Child Justice Act & Children's Act implementation: briefing by Social Development Department; Department of Health services to victims of domestic violence & abuse

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

15 September 2009
Chairperson: Ms B Thompson (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Social Development explained their role in the implementation of the Child Justice Act, which changed the manner in which children in conflict with the law were dealt with within the criminal justice system. The Department maintained that it had already done substantial work with regard to its readiness for the implementation of the Child Justice Act. It had completed costing of the Act, appointment of probation officers, diversion programmes, home based supervision and had developed a national action plan on the areas of responsibility for the DSD. The status on human resources and the initiatives that they had in place to support the implementation of this Act was given, which included an upgrade of their information management systems to track children in the system. The Department had started work as required by the Act on the national policy framework to develop capacity within government and the non governmental sector on diversion programmes.

The Domestic Violence Act provided for shelters to be established. There were currently 96 shelters throughout South Africa. The lack of shelters for victims of domestic violence had been identified as a major constraint towards the effective implementation of the Act. The department was also responsible for monitoring and evaluating the impact of the Victim Empowerment Program (VEP) with regard to crime prevention and meeting the needs of victims of crime and violence. The DSD had also embarked on the development of Draft Guidelines on Services to Victims of Domestic Violence. A feasibility study for legislation dealing with Victim Empowerment Programmes was yet to be finalised.  Based on provincial reports on the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act, these showed that people were aware of the services and were reporting cases to SAPS and DSD offices.

Some of the challenges identified in the implementation of both Acts were:
▪ lack of monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to monitor implementation and manage information;
▪ lack of marketing and communication strategy for services;
▪ high staff turnover in provinces which affected implementation;
▪ difficulties in registration of shelters and accreditation of service providers and programmes;
▪ budgetary constraints which impacted on efforts to strengthen services.

The Committee commented that there was a serious problem when it came to integrating overlapping responsibilities with regards to the South African Police Service, the Department of Social Development and the Department of Justice, especially when it came to accountability. There was dissatisfaction with the Department's failure to successfully implement all of its programmes citing the woeful statistic that only thirty out of three hundred of the Department's programmes had been implemented. Various committee members queried the shelter statistics, how efficiently the Department utilised its budget to implement the legislation, skills shortages and capacity within the Department to undertake their mandate.
The Committee were taken through the content of the Children’s Act of 2005 as amended, with narrative on the DSD's readiness to implement each chapter. The National Department had visited all the provinces during August 2009 to assess their readiness to implement the Children’s Act. From the visits, it was established that on a scale of 1 to 5, the readiness of provinces was only on average at level 3.

The Committee were taken through the Children’s Act regulations which the DSD and DOJ had drafted as required by the Act. Implementation of the Act was dependent on the finalisation of the regulations. The regulations had to be approved by the respective Justice and DSD Ministers who also had to agree which of the remaining sections of the Act could be promulgated. DSD officials felt that the Department of Justice were not prioritising the promulgation of the regulations and thence the full Act.

The Chairperson stressed the importance of finalising the regulations so that the Act could start addressing issues such as virginity testing which was still being practised.

The Director General of the Department of Health then briefed the Committee on the services rendered to victims of domestic violence and abuse.

Meeting report

Department of Social Development (DSD) on Child Justice Act
In introducing the Child Justice Act (CJA) to the Committee, Ms Conny Nxumalo, Chief Director: Child, Youth, Families, DSD, pointed out that the Act advocated for important changes to the manner in which children in conflict with the law were managed and dealt with within the criminal justice system. Since the conceptualisation of the legislation, DSD had strived to align all its initiatives on children in conflict with the law to the requirements of the Act. The DSD was therefore responsible for the execution of the functions stipulated by various pieces of legislations including the CJA for: provision of assessments for all arrested children by probation officers within 48hrs; provision and funding of diversion services; provision of alternatives for children awaiting trial; home based supervision programmes; provision of residential care facilities (Secure Care Facilities); provision of pre-trial and pre-sentence reports; alternative sentencing options; prevention services and programmes to strengthen existing capacity and opportunities for children; and early intervention services to prevent children from getting deeper into the Criminal Justice System.

Ms Nxumalo noted the supporting legislation that accompanied the CJA such as the Probation Services Act of 1991which required that any arrested child who had not been released had to be assessed by a probation officer as soon as reasonably possible, but before his or her first appearance in court. It also provided that if the child had not yet been assessed when brought before the court, the court could authorise the extension of the period within which the assessment had to take place by periods not exceeding seven days at a time following his or her first court appearance. Likewise, the Children's Act of 2005 provided for a prevention programme, early intervention programmes and Residential Care Facilities and programmes.

Looking at the state of human resources for the implementation of the Act, the DSD had approximately 484 probation officers who were currently servicing 388 magisterial courts, 88 high courts and 299 periodical courts. These numbers exclude Social Workers who performed probation services as part of their generic work and not as a specialty. National and provincial initiatives by the Department to recruit students to study Social Work and Auxiliary Social Work were underway. There were 360 Assistant Probation Officers who had been appointed to provide services to children in conflict with the law. A volunteer assistant probation officer programme had also been initiated in collaboration with Umsobomvu Youth Fund and the National Youth Service Programme to recruit and train 198 young people as Assistant Probation Officers. Although the project started with 198 learners, 28 of them had left the project for employment opportunities elsewhere. These young people were assisting probation officers in providing services to children in conflict with the law, especially with regard to the implementation of home-based supervision and family finding. To date 150 volunteer assistant probation officers had been permanently appointed as Assistant Probation Officers, and 19 were appointed in other fields within the department.

In her briefing on some of the initiatives to support the implementation of the Act, Ms Nxumalo highlighted how the department had utilised its allocation of funds from Integrated Justice System (IJS) project to develop and purchase equipment for an Information Management system for secure care data, to make it possible for regional, provincial and national offices to have immediate access to the database of children in secure care and places of safety. The Child and Youth Care Application (CYCA) and Institute Administrative System (IAS) was a centralised electronic / computerised application systems used in residential care facilities. The system managed the children awaiting trial, provided statistics, details about the programmes they were involved in, court dates and tracked the movement of children within the facilities.

Diversion programmes were part of the initiatives to support the implementation of the Act. The Department as mandated by the Probation Services Act provided diversion programmes for children in conflict with the law. The Department through its Provincial Departments allocated funding to all civil society organisations rendering diversion programmes to children at risk and in conflict with the law according to minimum norms and standards on diversion that had been developed for uniformity and consistency.

Section 56 of the CJA required the Department to create a national policy framework to develop capacity at all levels of government and the non governmental sector to establish, maintain and develop programmes for diversion, a system for accreditation of diversion programmes and diversion service providers and availability of resources to implement diversion programmes. The Department had embarked on the process of developing this policy framework.

Other initiatives to support the implementation of the Act included capacity building of probation officers on restorative justice, diversion and assessment procedure. In the previous financial year training on restorative justice, diversion norms and standards, sexual offenders programme, assessment procedures and report writing techniques were conducted in all the nine provinces. A total number of 618 practitioners were capacitated and 308 APOs involved in a re-orientation and training process in partnership with the
South African Council for Social Service Professions.
Department of Social Development (DSD) on Domestic Violence Act
Ms Nxumalo explained that the Act provided for a protection order to be issued by court for victims of domestic violence and for shelters to be established. The Act recognised that domestic violence was a serious social ill of which there was a high incidence of it within South African society. The remedies previously available to the victims of domestic violence had proved to be ineffective. The Act afforded the victims of domestic violence the maximum protection from domestic abuse that the law could provide and introduced measures which sought to ensure that the relevant organs of state gave full effect to the provisions of this Act and ensured that the State was committed to the elimination of domestic violence.

The Department was tasked with the responsibility of monitoring and evaluating the impact of the Victim Empowerment Programme with regard to crime prevention and meeting the needs of victims of crime and violence. The DSD as the lead department facilitated the establishment and management of shelters in South Africa. With the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act (Act No 116 of 1998), lack of shelters for victims of domestic violence had been identified as a major constraint towards the effective implementation of the Act. This constraint acted as catalyst for the DSD to develop the strategy for shelters for victims of Domestic Violence which was finalised in June 2003 and launched in September 2003.The Strategy on Shelters was reviewed in August 2008 and approved in August 2009.

There were currently 96 shelters which existed throughout SA as reflected in the database of the provincial offices of the department. Efforts were still being made by the department to continue facilitating the establishment of shelters in provinces especially Limpopo, North West, Mpumalanga and the Free State. These shelters provided accommodation for a period of up to six months and a clear exit plan directed further interventions. The department was also exploring the issue of transitional houses with the Department of Human Settlements for reintegration back into the community.

There were currently 7 one stop centres in existence throughout SA. Efforts were underway by DSD in partnership with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) through EU support and Japan Embassy funding to continue facilitating the establishment of one stop centres in provinces especially Limpopo, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and the Free State.

The DSD had also embarked on the development of DSD Draft Guidelines on Services to Victims of Domestic Violence in August 2008. The rationale for the guidelines was to provide a comprehensive, multifaceted and holistic DSD Draft Guidelines on Services to Victims of Domestic Violence. This would assist social service professionals to deliver an efficient and effective service to victims of domestic violence; to bridge the gap in policy and practices aimed at dealing with violence against women and children; to minimise myths about domestic violence and to outline interventions required by service providers and government departments for dealing with violence against women.

Challenges in the implementation of both Acts
Ms Nxumalo noted, however, that there were challenges that the Department faced in the form of:
▪ lack of monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to monitor implementation and manage information;
▪ lack of marketing and communication strategy for services;
▪ high staff turnover in provinces which affected implementation;
▪ difficulties in registration of shelters and accreditation of service providers and programmes;
▪ budgetary constraints which impacted on efforts to strengthen services.

Ms Nxumalo submitted how the DSD was dealing with these challenges:
▪ A process had been started to develop generic indicators to enhance information management.
▪ DSD was also busy with a communication strategy supported by national treasury.
▪ It had commissioned a feasibility study for development of VEP legislation to address the challenges.
▪ Continually engaging treasury to allocate additional funds through sector bids and use of donor funding.

In conclusion, she said that DSD had already done substantial work in readiness for the implementation of the Child Justice Act and had completed costing of the Act, appointment of probation officers, diversion programmes, home based supervision and had developed a national action plan on the areas of responsibility for DSD. The implementation of the Domestic Violence Act revealed that people were aware of services and reporting cases to SAPS and DSD offices based on provincial reports. The feasibility study for the legislation on Victim Empowerment Programmes was yet to be finalised.

The Chairperson commented that there was a serious problem when it came to integrating overlapping responsibilities of the South African Police Service (SAPS), the DSD and the Department of Justice (DOJ) when it came to accountability. She was also concerned that in most presentations the Departments were forever promising to do certain things but never really reported on any progress of things that they had done.

Ms Nxumalo responded that they had a forum where they met as a cluster within the Criminal Justice System. Therefore if there were challenges, then they would communicate them to each other at that forum.

Mr D Kekana (ANC) commented that they were going to be up in arms with the Department as they had been chasing up on the implementation of programmes of which only 30 out of 300 had been successfully implemented. He felt that this was unacceptable because the DSD were at the core of these matters and yet the Committee was not getting clarity as to why only 30 out of 300 programmes had been implemented and he felt that the DSD officials were undeserving of any performance bonuses since performance evaluations also took programme implementation into account. He commented that it was not only the issue that there was no money but one had to consider if money was being used properly.

Ms H Malgas (ANC) commented that there had been no mention of what charges were faced by the 600 children who were awaiting trial and wanted to know why there was no correlation between the figures for number of children arrested and those who had been assessed by the Department.

Ms Nxumalo responded that the 600 children who were awaiting trial detainees were in prison for serious offences. It was the magistrate’s prerogative to decide whether a child had to be incarcerated or not whilst awaiting trial. The Department simply made a recommendation after making an assessment which the magistrate would look at, together with other factors such as the seriousness of the offence and whether the child was a first offender, to enable the magistrate to come to a decision. The child could then be detained in a correctional facility for a variety of reasons such as the threat they could possibly cause to society or themselves. The DSD therefore did not have much control over that but they kept information and they could conduct re-assessments and approach the courts for alternative placing if necessary. The DSD would be able to provide the Committee with statistics on how many children were awaiting trial detainees and the nature of the offences for which they had been arrested such as murder, attempted rape or armed robbery.

Ms Nxumalo conceded that the number of arrested children had to correlate with the number of children assessed. However it sometimes happened that the number of children assessed and the number of arrests would be different as in the present situation. These figures were meant to correlate because all children who were arrested had to be assessed irrespective of the type of offence. She hoped that at some stage these figures would correlate so that there would be no child arrested by the police who would not be assessed by the DSD. This would require the partnership between SAPS and DSD to be strengthened. It was also helpful that the National Prosecution Authority had now adopted a stance whereby no cases would be accepted from the police without an assessment report from the DSD.

Ms H Malgas (ANC) asked for clarity on the statistics, asking whether the figure of 96 domestic violence shelters was accurate since there were other statistics that contradicted this figure and suggested that there were 60 domestic violence shelters. She commented to the Committee that they had to exercise oversight over funding provided to the Department by Treasury.

Ms Nxumalo responded that despite what had been said by Lifeline there were a total of 96 shelters in the country. However, not all of them were funded by government.

Ms H Malgas (ANC) commented that remedies had not been effective when it came to domestic violence. Considering there were budgetary constraints, how much of the DSD budget had been allocated for the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act and how much of the budget was allocated for domestic violence shelters.

Ms Nxumalo responded that they had done a domestic violence survey in 2008 and this had helped them to identify problems in terms of what was working and what was not working in the system. That report indicated the gaps and problems in SAPS, the Department of Justice and the DSD. That research would be made available to the Committee to provide details of their methodology and a profile of some of the victims of domestic violence.

Ms P Duncan (DA) asked about the level of funding provided to domestic violence shelters and asked if they were fully funded. Perhaps the DSD could give a break-down of the shelters in terms of funding and where they were located.

Ms Nxumalo responded that the figures would be provided to the Committee as she did not have them at hand. What she did know was they were funded by the provinces and they had a challenge because provinces were funding shelters differently. They were therefore trying to streamline funding for all services within Social Development because one would find that each province had their own way of budgeting not only shelters but also other services. The information of what the provinces were funding per shelter would be provided to the Committee.

The Chairperson suggested that national department could come up with a guideline on funding to bring a level of uniformity to the funding of shelters as opposed to leaving the provinces to decide.

Ms Nxumalo thanked the Chairperson for her suggestion. She admitted that the DSD lacked a guideline on funding although they had norms and standards and they had strategy and guidelines but the challenge was the funding. The problem was that the provincial governments were funded differently. This was a challenge that should have been dealt with long ago on standardisation of funding for shelters. This is why she had spoken about legislation, because one would have norms and standards but there was no legal recourse if norms and standards were breached or if guidelines were not implemented. They would review the DVA to include all the issues that had been complained about within the cluster before they came up with legislation that would encompass all other victim support policies beyond domestic violence.

Ms P Duncan (DA) commented that they were failing the nation's children in terms of legislation, policies and infrastructure both in the private and public sector. It was unacceptable to have a Children's Act where certain programmes were implemented and others remained inactive. The DSD had to spell out to the Committee what the real problems were and they would have to make a much bigger attempt to address these challenges. There was a need to understand why there was a lack of energy at the national level when it came to implementation.

Ms Duncan commented that marketing and communication strategies were inadequate for encouraging meaningful public participation in the law-making process. The outcry was always the fact that communities were unaware of what the Act could offer them. Public participation was a constitutional imperative.

She said on the matter of budgetary constraints that there was a need to engage vigorously, not just with National Treasury but even the private sector and international aid organisations. It was unacceptable for this issue to remain a challenge for any longer than it had already.

Ms Duncan asked why it had taken so long for national policy guidelines on the Victim Empowerment Programme (VEP) to be developed and launched. The VEP had been launched as early as 1998 as part of the Crime Prevention Strategy and yet no progress had been made since then.

Ms D Robinson (DA) commented that although there had been a request for additional funds and there was always a request for more funding. However it was far more important to check whether money was being used properly because time and again they had seen that money was rolled over or would be sent back. So perhaps it would be important to see whether money was being used and whether they were getting quality for money from the budget. One could ask for more money but if they were not using this properly then that too would be a problem.

Ms Robinson said that many people were unaware of services that were on offer so they should be informed about what their rights were so that they could receive assistance from the Department. It was not easy for everybody, especially in rural areas, to know everything about how to obtain services. It was important for people to be aware of what their rights were and for communication to be improved to ensure that such people also received assistance.

Ms Robinson said that non-government organisations were not adequately funded since funding focused on specific projects ignoring administration and other operating costs. There were some NGOs that were operating on a voluntary basis with funding allocated only for particular projects. There was no money allocated for administration costs and this created a gap considering the contribution made by NGOs in supplementing the work done by Government. It was necessary to look at ways of increasing the funding since it was clear that Government was not able to do all of this work on its own.

Ms Nxumalo responded that they were also saying that NGOs had to be funded for their running costs as well. They had received 20 million Euro in funding for victim support. NGOs needed to include this issue in their business plans which they submitted with requests for funding.

Ms Robinson asked whether facilities for domestic violence catered for women with children or if they provided facilities for families. It seemed that there were men's and women's facilities but there no facilities for children to cater for situations when families actually wanted to be together in a shelter such as where both women and children were suffering from domestic violence.

Ms Nxumalo responded that most shelters provided accommodation for families, that is women and their children.

Ms Duncan commented that she was concerned by the manner in which the DSD spent their budget and could not help concluding that social services were being politicised if the bulk of the budget (R500 million) had been spent in the last quarter of the financial year. This was a very big concern for her and she appealed to the Department not to take a similar route with this year's budget.

Ms Duncan also asked whether programmes run by the social services sector were aligned to the needs of children. Perhaps they could check whether this was the case and develop innovative ways of addressing this problem or speak with the Committee for assistance or the new Planning Commission. Whilst a lot of money was channelled through to the NGOs there did not seem to be any tangible and sustainable changes.

The Chairperson commented that before approaching Treasury, there would be need to consider whether the original allocation had been effectively used. What had been said by Ms Robinson was important to ensure that before approaching Treasury they had fully accounted for the original allocation. She was not particularly happy with the use of funds for printing T-shirts and pamphlets which had no impact on communities with respect to marketing the Department's services.

Ms H Makhuba (ANC) queried why there were variations in the funding of shelters in provinces and the policy on financial awards. The other issue was the lack of legislation on the funding of NGOs and there was a need to revise the current policy on social services to come up with comprehensive legislation.

The Chairperson commented that social workers were not adequately remunerated considering the burden of social work and this affected the delivery of services to children.

Ms Maria Mabetoa, Deputy Director General in the DSD, responded that they had an infrastrucure plan in place to assist social workers with accommodation especially in rural areas to improve their working conditions.

Ms H Makhuba (ANC) asked if the shortage of social workers was because of budgetary constraints or if it was because of a lack of qualified people. She wanted to know what interventions were in place to address this by for instance communicating with universities to find out how many students were completing relevant qualifications and how the Department could recruit them and train them to fill up vacancies.

Ms Nxumalo responded that the DSD had recruitment and retention strategies in place. They also had a Treasury funded scholarship programme through which social workers were being recruited and were given bursaries to study social work. They also visited schools at career fairs to recruit students and encourage them to study social work.

The Chairperson and a few other members commented that they were not aware of any such programmes.

Ms Nxumalo responded that this was because of a lack of marketing and communication on these initiatives.

The Chairperson requested the DSD to expand on the nature of the work they did for purposes of informing the Committee.

Ms Duncan suggested that there had to be outreach with the Department of Education in terms of career-pathing to address skills shortages. She expressed concern about under spending of the budget and the rolling over of funds with regards to how the 20 million Euros funding obtained from the EU would be utilised.

Ms Nxumalo responded that they had an implementing partner and the money was spent through the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). They had a project plan with clear key result areas which the EU would monitor at the end of the project. All the funds were allocated per key result area and the Committee could rest assured that this was not something that would be spent in the last quarter.

Ms Robinson asked if there were mechanisms in place for the debriefing of social workers to help them cope with the trauma resulting from their work.

Ms Mabetoa responded that in every office in the province they had an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) service where debriefing was done for social workers. For instance, some clients had been known to shoot themselves in front of a social worker.

Implementation of the Children’s Act: briefing by DSD
Ms Conny Nxumalo took the Committee through the content of the Children’s Act of 2005 as amended and commented on the DSD's readiness to implement the Act. Her presentation began with a background to the Act in which she submitted that during 1997 the Minister for Social Development had requested the South African Law Reform Commission to investigate the Child Care Act. The outcome had revealed that that Act did not have a rights based approach. The new legislation, a combination of both the Children’s Act No 38 of 2005 and the Children’s Amendment Act No 41 of 2007, focused much more on children’s rights and the best interests of children.

Both these two pieces of legislation had been consolidated into one document which was named the Children’s Act as amended. The Act had 22 chapters: Chapter 1 dealt with the interpretation, objects, application and implementation. Chapter 2 provided for children’s rights and dealt with issues such as the best interests of the child, child participation, social, cultural and religious practices, access to children’s courts and the age of majority. Chapter 3 dealt with matters pertaining to parental responsibilities and rights agreements and the assignment of parental responsibilities and rights by order of court. This chapter also provided for the rights of fathers, presumption of paternity, parenting plans and the rights of children conceived by artificial fertilisation. Chapter 4 provided for the functioning, powers and jurisdiction of children’s courts, the conduct of proceedings before the children’s court and presiding officers and other court officials. Chapters 5, 6, a part of chapter 7, and 8,11,12,13 and 14, were in the Children’s Amendment Act. These chapters dealt with provincial competencies for service delivery to children. Chapter 7 was a crucial part of the Act as it provided for the National Child Protection Registers A and B and measures to do with the health of children, consent to medical treatment and HIV / AIDS testing. Chapter 9 dealt with the child in need of care and protection, provided for the identification of such children and provided for actions to be taken with regard to children in need of care and protection. Chapter 10 dealt with Contribution Orders. Chapter 15 and 16 respectively provide for adoption and inter country adoption and gave effect to the Hague Convention of Inter-Country Adoption. Chapter 19 introduced new legislation into the South African legal system by formally providing for surrogate motherhood. Chapter 20 provided for the enforcement of the Act through powers of inspection and the creation of offences. Chapters 21 and 22 dealt with general administrative issues and other miscellaneous matters such as regulations, delegations and assignments, outsourcing of services and transitional measures.

With respect to implementation readiness, Ms Nxumalo submitted that the National Department had visited all the provinces during August 2009 to assess their readiness to implement the Children’s Act.

From the visits, it was established that the Provincial Heads of Social Development (HODs) had not signed off the implementation plans (formally indicating their awareness of the implications of the new legislation for their provinces. Secondly, by signing off, they indicated their commitment to give effect to the implementation plan. If HODs were not aware of the implications, similarly, the MEC would not be in a position to provide the needed support.

The implementation plans that were drafted by the provinces had been incomplete.The structure of the implementation plans had three parts:
Part A - Situation Analysis,
Part B – Implementation Plan, and
The 3rd Part was the Consolidated Budget.

The initial implementation plans were drafted in 2006; however some of the provinces did not include any of the activities that appear in their plan into their Departmental Strategic Plan. There were activities that could be performed even before full promulgation such as training. On average, provinces were not completely ready to implement the Act. They were on different levels of readiness. On a scale of 1 to 5 most of the provinces were on level 3.

The Children’s Act as amended had been through an extensive and detailed costing process. The process had involved all national and provincial departments that would play a role in the implementation of the Act. The final costing report was submitted to the Minister in July 2006. The results revealed that the Children’s Act created additional responsibility on the State to make plans for, and encourage, the development of a range of new services including partial care, prevention and early intervention services, child and youth care centres and drop-in centres where these were deemed necessary. This had not been an expectation within the Child Care Act.

Overall, the Children’s Act extended the responsibility of the State, and regulated a wider range of services than those covered by the Child Care Act. In practice, this created the need for greater State capacity for the registration and monitoring of a range of new services, as well as a responsibility on the State to create such new services where they did not exist. The new obligations extended to other departments such as SAPS, DOH, DOJ, Department of Education, and Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs.

In line with the costing report, National Departments and Provinces had developed Implementation Plans. The draft national inter sectoral plan consisted of a situation analysis, activities, projects, budgets and human resource requirements for the implementation of the Act. Individual plans still had gaps and the DSD was visiting all provinces to assist them to update and finalise their plans. Plans needed to be finalised for the national inter sectoral plan to be comprehensive and complete.

Mr Loselo Puseletso, Chief Director: DSD Legal Services, took the Committee through the part of the presentation on regulations. He submitted that there were two sets of regulations, one which had to be drafted and finalised by the DSD and the other set relating to Chapter 4 which were the responsibility of the  DOJ. He stated that the implementation of the Act was dependent on the finalisation of the regulations. The draft DSD regulations had been finalised, however, the issue of the affordability of implementing the Act was still under consideration by Treasury and the Minister would have to agree with Treasury on the implementation costs . The Act required the DSD Minister to seek consultation on the regulations with other Ministers who had obligations in terms of the Act. The implementation of the Act was also dependent on the conclusion of chapter 4 by the DOJ as the Act could not be implemented until the DOJ had finalised the provisions of chapter 4 which dealt with the issue of children's courts. The provisions of chapter 4 had an effect on the regulations dealing with scheduled courts. He  was aware that at some stage the DOJ had said that they were not ready and he was not sure where they were at present and this affected the ability to implement the whole Act.

The Departments of Basic Education, Health and Police had responded and made proposals on the draft Regulations. The Office of the State Law Advisor had then reviewed and certified the draft DSD Regulations and provided feedback in May 2009. To implement the Act the following processes need to be finalised:
The DSD was in the process of revising and finalising the Regulations. The Justice & DSD Regulations had to be approved by the respective Ministers. Both Regulations needed to be proclaimed before the Act could be implemented. Minister of Justice and the Minister of Social Development needed to agree on the remaining sections of the Act that could be promulgated and the possible date of promulgation.


Mr Puseletso proposed that in case the DOJ was not ready then they could look at which parts or provisions could be implemented whilst they waited for the DOJ to finalise their areas of responsibility. This proposal could be made to the Director General and the Minister of the DOJ for them to see which provisions could be implemented in the absence of the regulations on chapter 4 of the Act. Perhaps Ms Agnes Muller could assist in informing the Committee whether the DOJ had finalised this.

The Department's presentation also covered matters on their national policy framework and strategy, monitoring and evaluation framework, training guidelines and the childcare and protection forum.

The Chairperson commented on the implementation of the Children’s Act, specifically the finalisation of the regulations. She commented that there was no proper co-ordination between the DSD and the DOJ as indicated during the briefing by the fact that the left hand was not able to tell what the right hand was doing.

Mr Puseletso agreed and commented that their priorities were not aligned. The DSD had set this as a top priority. The DOJ however were not prioritising this in the same way and perhaps this depended on their budget structure. So the DSD was saying that they were ready and waiting for the DOJ to do its part. He asked whether the DOJ could look at how they could implement certain parts of the legislation even if they had not completed other parts.

Ms Agnes Muller, Department of Justice's
Manager: Children's Act, responded that they had to be careful about doing things in a staggered approach or piece meal fashion. She explained that they could not insert the regulations into the existing Act without first considering their implications. They needed to align the existing provisions with the regulations to prevent chaos in the legislation if they were simply inserted without proper examination.

Ms Tsholekelo Moloi, Director: Victim Empowerment Programme, DSD, submitted that the consultation between the Ministers would also involve the provinces so that they would not be left out if they had any input on the subject.

The Chairperson stressed the importance of the need to finalise the regulations so that the Act could start addressing issues such as virginity testing which was still being practised.

Department of Health (DOH) briefing
Mr Thami Mseleku, Director General of the Department of Health, spoke on the DOH services rendered to victims of domestic violence and abuse. He indicated that the Department's briefing would do so in a broader sense since their services were available to all kinds of victims, including victims of domestic abuse, although there were specific services for specific issues.

The presentation addressed the policy and legislative framework to contextualise what informed their work in relation to victims of domestic violence. In terms of policies, there were a whole range of them which provided guidance to the Department on how they handled issues of violence particularly sexual abuse and violation of children. The National Sexual Assault Policy Guidelines (2005) was instructive in that regard. Within that framework, they also addressed the issue of domestic violence. There was also a training manual for clinical forensic medicine (2007) which was very important for hospitals and clinics to be able to ensure that valuable forensic evidence was preserved for victims of sexual violence and domestic violence. There were other policies such as the Gender Policy Guidelines for public health services, the Service Charter for victims of crime in South Africa, and the Patients Rights Charter which addressed itself to a whole range of issues within the institutions in the health sector on matters such as the right to confidentiality and the right to medical treatment. When it came to children, they had guidelines on the management of child abuse, neglect and exploitation and this related to children as victims of different kinds of domestic violence and abuse. They also tried to locate that within the broader management of childhood illness what was called the Household and Community Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI). There was therefore a conducive policy environment for dealing with domestic violence and issues of abuse.

On the question of implementation, all victims of injuries and trauma were seen at primary health care facilities, outpatients departments of hospitals and emergency/casualty departments. At that level there were no specialised services to focus on particular cases of domestic violence and abuse. However, all public hospitals and more than 50% of community health centres had been designated to provide services to victims of sexual assault and abuse, this included the provision of post exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Hospital staff were trained to identify victims of sexual assault and abuse. The Department's aim was to ensure that all community health centres would be able to provide these services.

There were 16 Thuthuzela Centres which were located within public hospitals. These centres were specifically geared towards victims of sexual assault / rape. This was an integration of the health services and the police and the prosecution services so that all those processes could occur at the same time and not have a victim moved from one place to another, that is, to go the police to make a statement, the health centre for medical examination and then the courts to give testimony at a trial. This integration raised the prospect of a conviction when such matter went to trial. At the moment the conviction rate for cases involving victims who had gone to the Thuthuzela Centres was 90% currently. However, 16 Thuthuzela Centres were not enough. They had to expand those services in cooperation with the police and prosecution services.

The Department was accrediting some institutions, clinics, community centres and hospitals to provide what were known as youth friendly services. These were places were sensitivity would be shown to the needs of young people, in particular those who were either victims of domestic violence or abuse, neglected young people or broadly speaking, all young people who could rely on such services. There were certain criteria that had been put in place for what a youth friendly service should be like in terms of the staff, attitude, privacy and other considerations. The Department had a set of indicators for declaring whether an institution or health facility was youth friendly. The criteria had been agreed upon in consultation with the Youth desk of the Presidency. For example, when it came to issues such as termination of pregnancy, young people found it very difficult to walk into a hospital and request assistance. However, if there were a youth friendly service then they would feel comfortable approaching a health facility.

The Chairperson asked if the Thuthuzela Centres were situated at the hospitals.

Mr Mseleku responded that they were situated at clinics and the hospitals that qualified to be youth friendly hospitals in terms of established criteria. The general challenge which they faced was the availability of health professionals, especially for specialised services required for dealing with rape and sexual violence.

The Department provided clinical forensic medicine services to victims of sexual abuse in all provinces. This was one area in which South Africa was facing a very big challenge because forensic skills were in short supply. When the forensic laboraraties and mortuaries had been transferred to the Department of Health from the Police, one of the issues that had become very clear to them was the level of skills shortages and hence the backlog in forensic services. This would impact on victims of sexual abuse in terms of obtaining the kind of forensic evidence that was necessary to obtain a conviction. In order to capacitate health professionals to be able to provide this service, the Department had trained 450 doctors and nurses to ensure that they were sensitive to the psychological state of victims, on how to take a history, how to take a specimen and on legal and ethical issues – this would be to ensure, for example, that their evidence could stand a legal test. However 450 health professionals for the entire nation's needs was inadequate although they would capacitate the existing Thuthuzela Centres.

Because of the responsibilities of the Health sector in the area of HIV / AIDS, the Department was well aware of the risks posed by domestic violence in that regard. This issue of domestic violence and HIV / AIDS had been put forward as one of the key issues to be dealt with by the Department. Some of the challenges that they faced related to inter-sectoral collaboration at district level. They were still largely dependant on individuals and their passion for these kinds of issues. They needed to institutionalise inter sectoral collaboration, especially for health education, awareness raising, family planning and other related services. There was also a special challenge when it came to the training of health personnel about sensitivity regarding people's HIV status. There were infrastructure challenges, for instance, one’s HIV status could be revealed if one was seen walking into a particular section of a hospital or clinic. This was part of the challenge that they were facing with the Thuthuzela Centres because one could already see that a person was a victim of domestic violence or sexual abuse because they were going into the centre. If infrastructure were available where people could actually keep their confidentiality, then perhaps this would assist the victims. At present people could be traumatised because they first had to get to an outpatient ward before they could be referred to a Thuthuzela Centre. The other problem was linked to the issue of follow ups and again this was linked to integration because one could follow up from a medical point of view but there would still be a need for other services to ensured people did not go back to the same domestic environment. This was always a problem and people would often become repeat victims.

In conclusion, Mr Mseleku submitted that the DOH was trying to build specialised services particularly for sexual abuse and child abuse. That was why it was necessary to look at the issue of integration and one of the key issues about that was the availability of social workers in health institutions. This was a challenge that they were trying to address.

The Chairperson commented that the Department had been very “strategic” in their presentation and had spoken about privacy issues and their relationship with other departments.

Mr G Selau (ANC) commented that the distinction between private and public hospital care was concerning considering that the majority of people who were sick were people who could not afford private hospital care.

Mr Mseleku responded that one of the fundamental reasons why the Government had decided to implement National Health Insurance was to address inequalities in access to health services between the rich and the poor. Private health care funding spent about R65 billion on 7 million South Africans whilst public health care spent about R56 billion on the rest of the population. There was therefore over-servicing of people who were healthy and the under-servicing of those in need of health care.

Ms Malgas (ANC) asked how the 450 doctors and nurses would be trained. She commented that when it came to an integrated approach there was always a struggle with psychologists. She asked what the DOH's relationship with other departments was like in terms of what they could offer to them.

Ms H Makhuba (ANC) asked what the exact requirements were in terms of the number of health professionals required for assisting women at the trauma centres.

Mr Mseleku responded that there was a need to address the underlying social problems which resulted in sexual violence, domestic violence and abuse in homes. This was a prevention strategy that would mitigate the resultant burden on the health care system. There was only so much that could be done by the health system to absorb victims and provide them with care and assistance. If there was a surge in incidents of violence and abuse then the system would be overtaken in terms of capacity and it would struggle to cope.

Ms Robinson asked where the Thuthuzela Centres and forensic centres were located in relation to their accessibility to victims of domestic violence and sexual violence and abuse.

Mr Mseleku responded that forensic labs were located in Pretoria and were far away from the sites where evidence was obtained

The Chairperson suggested that a danger allowance had to be provided for caregivers to improve their conditions of service.

Mr Mseleku responded that they had scrapped danger allowances after they had discovered that they were being eroded in terms of their value because of abuse by officials. Plans were underway to address the remuneration structure through the implementation of an Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD).

Mr Mseleku responded that collaboration with other departments had been improving

Mr Selau commented that there were some doctors who felt that the NHI would have an impact on their capital generating potential and were already considering employment outside South Africa.

Mr Mseleku responded that the NHI would not impact on doctors but would actually guarantee their income.

Mr Selau asked how the issue of trauma in hospitals was dealt with, considering reports of traumatic events that were witnessed by hospital patients.

Mr Mseleku responded that trauma could be approached in various ways. Psychological trauma at hospitals as a result of witnessing traumatic events was a question of management and the issue was how management could be improved so that the public could not be subjected to traumatic events at hospitals. Communities could also be involved in the management of hospitals by providing support in the form of community marshals to direct members of the public to the right queue so that a person who had come to collect pills for diabetes did not end up in the casualty ward.

Ms Robinson asked what the Department was doing to prepare young people for parenthood.

Mr Mseleku responded that the issue of parenthood was being addressed by schools through the curriculum where learners were taught about reproduction and sexuality in subjects such as life skills.

The meeting was adjourned.


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