Child Justice Act interface with Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill

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17 November 2009
Chairperson: Ms L Chikunga (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee was briefed by the Department of Justice & Constitutional Development on the interface between the Child Justice Act (which would commence on 1 April 2010) and the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill. Members were concerned about the need to treat children differently when their fingerprints were taken by the SAPS. The need for an effective interface between the Child Justice Act and the Bill was recognised and Legal Services were requested to check for this and present a document to the Committee at the beginning of the 2010 session. Members congratulated the Chairperson on an excellent job this year.

Meeting report

Child Justice Act: briefing by Department of Justice & Constitutional Development
Mr Johan De Lange, Director: Legislation, Department of Justice & Constitutional Development, stated that Section 28 of the Constitution afforded children specific safeguards if in conflict with the law. The Child Justice Act of 2008 was intended to give effect to the provisions of Section 28 of the Constitution. The minimum age of criminal capacity for children was raised from 7 to 10 years in the Act and provided specific processes and procedures for children faced with arrest, detention and court appearance.  The Child Justice Act had to be read in conjunction with the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA), as it fell back upon many provisions contained in that Act. Schedule 5 of the Child Justice Act provided an audit of the provisions of the CPA and their relationship with the Child Justice Act. The Child Justice Act was passed in 2008 and would commence on 1 April 2010. The regulations of the Act had to be tabled by December 2009.  The National Commissioner of the South African Police Service (SAPS) had to issue directives that dealt with adult supervision during identity parades. However no directives were deemed necessary by SAPS about the taking of child fingerprints.

The Chairperson said that the Committee had decided that the state law advisors had to ensure that there was harmony between the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill and the Child Justice Act. The objective was to ensure that children were protected and treated according to the terms of restorative justice. Mr De Lange was correct in indicating that there needed to be a review of how fingerprinting of children was done as it was important that children were treated differently.

Ms A van Wyk (ANC) stated that a gap in the Bill was the making of regulations, as there was only one reference to this in the document. The submission on the need for an adult accompanying a child during fingerprinting that had been dismissed by SAPS as unnecessary, was worrying. It indicated that this issue needed to be given greater concern - due to SAPS being oblivious to its importance.

Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) stated that the Committee was not required to draft the regulations of the Bill, but at least the Committee needed to see them before they were finalised.

The Chairperson agreed with Ms Van Wyk and added that a parent or a social worker needed to be present with the child. She said that she had gone through the Bill and how it related to children’s issues and safeguards. Legal Services would attend to the wording about the storage of prints and the decision to destroy them immediately, as defined as a period not exceeding three months, if the individual was deemed innocent. Implementation phases for the Bill would be worked on by SAPS and then forwarded to the Committee at the beginning of the next session of Parliament.

Mr M George (COPE) stated that it had been very exciting returning to this Committee and that the determination of the Chairperson was the reason why the Committee was working so hard. If this was maintained the Committee would do very well. The commitment of members was also commendable. SAPS was thanked for their work on the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill. Despite the need to send them back sometimes, they had done an outstanding job and had effected every change that the Committee felt was necessary in the Bill.

Mr Ndlovu thanked the Chairperson for her guidance and humanity.

Rev K Meshoe (ACDP) stated that the Chairperson had been an excellent leader and that this Committee was one of the best in Parliament.

Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) stated that the Chairperson was exemplary and that the officials that they worked with were the best.

Mr G Schneemann echoed the sentiments of the other members on behalf of the ANC and hoped that they would continue on the same path next year.

The Chairperson thanked everyone for their warm messages and added that crime was a huge challenge which meant that this Committee’s work needed to reflect urgency and dedication. Members were thanked for their dedication and hard work.

The meeting was adjourned.


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