Tabling of Petitions: (1) Sewspersadh, (2) Leeuwkop & Kroonstad inmates; Communication strategy of the Committee; United Kingdom Study Tour; Adoption of Committee Programme

NCOP Petitions and Executive Undertakings

09 March 2010
Chairperson: Mr J Nyambi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to discuss a number of issues. A petition from Mr Sewspersadh was tabled, in which he sought the assistance of the Committee in instituting a private prosecution against individuals whom he alleged had caused him harm in relation to a repossession and attempted sequestration. A petition was then also tabled from two inmates at Leeukop and Kroonstad correctional centres, which alleged that they had been convicted and sentenced of a crime, despite confessions by other individuals who had then been pardoned. In all three matters, the Committee agreed that further details must be obtained before the matters were further discussed.

The Committee noted that a proposal had been made that members engage in various radio interviews, on a weekly basis, to publicise the work of the Committee, and agreed to indicate when they would be available to participate.

The Committee discussed the proposed study tour to the United Kingdom, and decided that it should be put on hold at the moment as the present budget would allow for only three Members and two support staff to attend, and it would be an important study tour.

The Committee adopted its programme, whilst noting that some leeway was being allowed to cater for the situation where Members might be faced with clashing commitments from more than one Committee.

Meeting report

Tabling of Petition by Mr Sewpersadh
The Chairperson noted that the matter involving Mr Sewpersadh started in 2005. He complained that a huge injustice had been committed against him when he fell into areas with his instalments, which led to repossession of his vehicle and a subsequent attempt to sequestrate him. He alleged that the judge, the lawyers and prosecutors involved in his matter all flouted the proceedings and disregarded the law. He had exhausted all legal remedies at his disposal to try to resolve the matter. The National Prosecuting Authority declined to prosecute his matter, and advised him that he could, if he wished, seek to pursue private prosecutions against the individuals concerned, under Section 7 of the Criminal Procedure Act. The purpose of the petition to the Committee was to seek the Committee’s intervention and help.

Tabling of Petitions from Leeuwkop and Kroonstad Correctional Centre inmates
The petitions from Leeuwkop and Kroonstad correctional centres involved inmates who were serving life sentences for murder and attempted murder. They alleged that they had been convicted and sentenced, despite confessions by the people who had in reality committed the crimes. Those people had since applied for amnesty and were granted pardon during the Truth and Reconciliation Process (TRC). The petitions however did not give clarity as to what other legal remedies the petitioners had sought, such as using the appeal process provided for in the Criminal Procedure Act, seeking presidential pardons or parole.


Mr A Watson (DA, Mpumalanga) asked Adv Mukesh Vassen, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, to clarify what exactly Mr Sewpersadh was complaining about.

Mr Vassen said, according to his understanding of the documents, that
Mr Sewpersadh was alleging that the process that led to the confiscation of his car was unlawful. There was a possibility that the complainant was confusing the botched sequestration procedure and the confiscation of the car. According to hire purchase agreements, Mr Sewspersadh would not have become the legal owner of the car until the last payment was made. However, the full documents detailing the complaint were on their way to parliament for consideration.

Mr C Maile (ANC) suggested that it would have been more useful if Members had received all the documentation about Mr
Sewpersadh’s complaint, familiarised themselves with the details, and could then proceed to seek legal advice.

The Chairperson concurred with Mr Maile, saying it would have been to everyone’s interest if the documents had been available to be studied, in anticipation of the legal opinion that Mr Vassen would provide.

Mr J Gunda (ID, Northern Cape) asked whether the Committee could do anything to assist the complainants in the Leeuwkop and Kroonstad petitions, in ensuring that they had access to a lawyer who would properly advise them of their rights and remedies, even before they engaged with the Committee.

Mr D Bloem (COPE, Free State) said he once had discussed the matter involving the inmates in the Leeuwkop and Kroonstad petitions, together with the office of the then-Secretary General of the ANC, Mr Kgalema Motlanthe. All cases deserving of consideration for Presidential pardon were thoroughly considered, including those of the present petitioners. It was important when dealing with such cases to be very careful. Some petitioners were merely taking chances.

Mr T Mofokeng (ANC, Free State) said he was also aware of this case and had in his possession the documents detailing the full story of the complaint.

Mr L Nzimande (ANC, Kwazulu Natal) said it would be advisable for the members to be given an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the facts of the matter before engaging further on it.

Mr M Mokgobi (ANC, Limpopo) asked whether the Committee would not consider it useful to request the two Ministers of Justice and Constitutional Development, and of Correctional Services to give their side of the story first.

The Chairperson asked that Mr Mofokeng could give some idea when he might be able to furnish the Committee with the documents.

Mr Mofokeng said he had already communicated with someone in his office to bring the documents and that they would be delivered before the end of the meeting.

Mr Maile said that Members needed to study the documents themselves, not only rely on the research presented by legal advisers.

Presentation by Media and Communications Representatives  
Mr Andile Mantanga, Media and Communications representative, Parliament, said that there was a proposal that the Committee should work with the media services to raise public awareness of the work of the Committee. Contacts had been established with various state owned radio stations, which were identified as the best platform to for reaching out to large audiences. Each week, a Committee member could arrange with at least one radio station to give an interview aimed at telling the public what the Committee was concerned with, including the work they were busy with. The aim was to provide such interviews in all eleven official languages so that no one would have an excuse of not having heard about the work of the Committee.


Ms B Mncube (ANC, Gauteng) asked who would be deciding which topics would be discussed in the radio interviews and how long those interviews would last.

Mr Nzimande said the idea was very welcome as it would put the work of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) into the map, which was particularly important since it appeared to be overshadowed by the work of the National Assembly (NA) in terms of media coverage.

The Chairperson said the comment by Mr Nzimande was very true and if the Committee felt strongly about that fact, the onus was on every Member to pull their weight in ensuring that media recognised the work of the Select Committees.

Ms Lokile Molefe, Media Liaison Officer, Parliament said there would be different slots for interviews, ranging from few minutes, to interviews lasting about 19 minutes.

Mr Bloem said it was important to face the facts as to why certain stories were not publicised. It was not entirely true that the media was biased towards the NA. In reality, the stories that got much coverage were those which were considered to be newsworthy. If a story was not seen in this light, it never would be broadcast.

The Chairperson noted Mr Bloem’s comment and asked all members to sign a form indicating the slots during which they would be able to give interviews, and also to give their language preferences for conducting the interviews.

Proposed United Kingdom Study Tour
The Chairperson briefed members that a study tour to the United Kingdom had been planned in order to allow Members of the Committee an opportunity to interact with parliamentarians from the UK, on how they dealt with issues similar to this Committee. It was clear that the United Kingdom would be the most appropriate place to visit. However, there were challenges with the budget, which would only allow for three members and two support staff to go on tour. The decision would need to be made whether to proceed with the tour.

Since the UK was identified as the most appropriate place to go, the challenge lay in the budget. It emerged that the budget could only allow three members plus two support stuff to go on tour. In light of that information, the Committee must now make a determination whether or not to proceed with the study tour.

The Chairperson noted his opinion that it would be better to delay the tour until the budget issues had improved, in order that a maximum number of members could participate in the study tour.

Mr Maine agreed with this proposal. If there was any chance that roll-overs from the previous budget may be added to the present budget, in order to allow more Members to go on the study tour, then this option should be considered. To allow only three members to go, for what seemingly would be an important tour, would leave other members feeling aggrieved.

Mr Mokgobi said that Members should be cognisant of the main reason for the tour, which was not to see London but to attend to parliamentary work, so it should not be seen as an enjoyable exercise.

Review and Adoption of the First-Term Committee Programme
All members agreed that the Committee programme be adopted as it stood, but that some leeway be incorporated to accommodate changes which may be necessary, seeing that some Members also belonged to other Committees which might have clashing programmes.

The meeting was adjourned.


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