Children's Amendment Bill [PMB-2013]: briefing by Mr M Waters (DA); Committee Report on Oversight visit to KZN

Social Development

17 June 2013
Chairperson: Ms Y Botha (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

Mr M Waters, a DA Member of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, presented a Private Member’s Bill as a proposed amendment to the Children’s Act 38 of 2005, after the Chairperson had outlined the new Parliamentary Rules governing the processing of a Private Members’ Bill, and confirmed that these had been complied with.
The introduction to the presentation stated that the Children’s Act 38 of 2005 had been promulgated to give effect to certain rights of children as contained in the Constitution; to set out principles relating to the care and protection of children; to define parental responsibilities and rights; to make further provision regarding children’s courts; to provide for the issuing of contribution orders; to make new provision for the adoption of children; to provide for inter-country adoption; to give effect to the Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption; to prohibit child abduction and to give effect to the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction; to provide for surrogate motherhood; to create certain new offences relating to children; and to provide for matters connected therewith.

The Children’s Amendment Bill was proposed to amend the Children’s Act, 2005, to provide for a person convicted of attempted rape to be declared unsuitable to work with children; and to provide for matters connected therewith.  Section 120 (4) and (5) of the Children’s Act, as it stood, dealt with the crimes taken into account when considering whether a person was legally suitable to work with children or not.  The crime of “attempted rape” had inadvertently been omitted from the Act and ought to be added to the crimes listed in the Act that constituted a disqualification when it came to working with children. The amendment constituted the addition of the words “attempted rape” in three places of this Section.
After a Member had supported the amendment, it was established that neither the Committee Secretary nor Mr Waters had received any responses to the publication of the Bill.  The Chairperson said the Committee had to invite the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, as well as the Department of Social Development, to comment on the Bill.  The Committee Secretary advised that the Bill had been classified as a Section 75 Bill, which meant that it did not have to go to the NCOP.  The Chairperson said the Bill would be prioritised in the third term of 2013, in terms of the work programme of the Committee.
Committee Report on the oversight visit to KZN
Mr R Bhoola (MF), a KZN-based member of the Committee, reported that he had followed up on two projects visited by the Committee in June 2012-- the Newlands Drug Rehabilitation centre as well as the Chatsworth Old-Age Home -- as he had been tasked to do by the Committee.  He reported that the Newlands Drug Rehabilitation Centre had undergone a major overhaul, including the addition of a fully equipped gymnasium, made possible by a R15.9 million grant from the KZN Provincial Department of Social Development. A remaining concern at the centre was security, as drugs were being smuggled into the centre from the informal settlements around it.

Mr Bhoola had also had interaction with the staff and management of the Chatsworth Old-Age Home, where nurses in training were unhappy with their stipends. After consulting with management, he was satisfied that the nurses’ stipends could not be increased, as management was trying to keep the institution’s expenses within its available budget.

The Chairperson asked that Mr Bhoola’s report be incorporated into the report, which was adopted with amendments.
 

Meeting report

The Chairperson opened the meeting and said Mr M Waters (DA) had submitted a Private Members’ Bill, a proposed amendment to the Children’s Act 38 of 2005.

She wanted to draw Members’ attention to the interim rules for the introduction of Private Members’ Bills, because they were new. The Bill had to be published in the Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports, which had been done.  It also had to be published in the Government Gazette. A committee, to whom a private Members’ Bill had been referred -- in this case, the Portfolio Committee on Social Development -- had to provide reasonable motives to the Member in charge of the Bill, before it considered legislation, and after due deliberation, adopt a motion of desirability on the principle of the Bill. If the motion of desirability of the Bill was checked, the Committee had to immediately report the Bill to the Assembly.  If the motion of desirability of the Bill was accepted, it could proceed to deliberate on the details of the legislation and report accordingly.  Once the Committee had reported, the House had to schedule a meeting for a second reading, subject to a decision of the programme committee.

The Committee had complied with Rule (i).  It had given notice to the Member and the Member had prepared a presentation which would be delivered at this meeting. The Committee would discuss the process of further deliberations after the presentation.

Presentation on Amendment to the Children’s Act 38 of 2005
Mr Waters opened the presentation by stating that the Children’s Act 38 of 2005 had been promulgated to give effect to certain rights of children, as contained in the Constitution; to set out principles relating to the care and protection of children; to define parental responsibilities and rights; to make further provision regarding children’s courts; to provide for the issuing of contribution orders; to make new provision for the adoption of children; to provide for inter-country adoption; to give effect to the Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption; to prohibit child abduction and to give effect to the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction; to provide for surrogate motherhood; to create certain new offences relating to children; and to provide for matters connected therewith.

The Children’s Amendment Bill was proposed to amend the Children’s Act, 2005, to provide for a person convicted of attempted rape to be unsuitable to work with children; and to provide for matters connected therewith.

The background to this proposed amendment was that Part B of the Child Protection Register had been introduced to protect children from people who had been found unsuitable to work with them. At present, the Act determined that such people included those convicted of murder, attempted murder, rape, indecent assault or assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm, with regard to a child.

The crime of “attempted rape” had inadvertently been omitted from the Act and ought to be added to the crimes listed in the Act that constituted a disqualification when it came to working with children.

Proposed amendments to section 120 (4) and (5) (The capitalised words had been added):

4) in criminal proceedings, a person must be found unsuitable to work with children --

(a) on conviction of murder, attempted murder, rape, ATTEMPTED RAPE, indecent assault or assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm with regard to a child; or

(b) if a court makes a finding and gives a direction in terms of section 77(6) or 78(6) of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (Act 51 of 1977) that the person is by reason of mental illness or mental defect not capable of understanding the proceedings so as to make a proper defence or was by reason of mental illness or mental defect not criminally responsible for the act which constituted murder, attempted murder, rape, ATTEMPTED RAPE, indecent assault or assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm with regard to a child.

(5) Any person who has been convicted of murder, attempted murder, rape, ATTEMPTED RAPE, indecent assault or assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm with regard to a child during the five years preceding the commencement of this Chapter, is deemed to have been found unsuitable to work with children.

The Children’s Bill proposed the abovementioned changes to the Act. The term “ATTEMPTED RAPE” had to be inserted in the places indicated in Section 120 (4) and (5).

Discussion
Mr V Magagula (ANC) supported the amendment.

The Chairperson said the Committee Secretary had not received any responses to the publication of the Bill, and asked Mr Waters whether he had received any responses.

Mr Waters replied that he had not received any public comments either.

The Chairperson said the Committee had to invite the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, as well as the Department of Social Development, to comment on the Bill.

The Committee Secretary said the Bill had been classified as a Section 75 Bill, which meant that it did not have to go to the NCOP.

The Chairperson said the Bill would be prioritised in the third term of 2013, in terms of the work programme of the Committee. The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Department of Social Development would be called for their input, as these departments dealt with the Children’s Act.

Committee Report on Oversight visit to KZN
The chairperson tabled the report for consideration and
proposed the following amendments:

On Page 2, the fourth paragraph, which dealt with areas of concern that needed to be addressed, the Committee added another concern as bullet point number five, which read: “The close proximity of an informal settlement next to the centre was an impediment to rehabilitation.”

On Page 20, the third paragraph, under the heading “Visit to Mdladla child headed household”, the first sentence read: “The family is made up of seven siblings and is headed by a 30-year-old girl…”. The Committee change the word “girl” to “woman”.

The Chairperson asked Mr R Bhoola (MF) to report on his follow-up visits to the people and institutions that the Committee had visited, as he was from KZN.

Mr Bhoola replied that the Minister, as well as the MEC for Social Development in KZN, Ms Weziwe Thusi, had both visited the Newlands Rehabilitation Centre during late April 2013. The Centre could initially accommodate only 40 to 60 beds.  Currently there was a huge development taking place. For the first phase, R15.9 million had been made available by the provincial Department of Social Development for the upgrade. There was a huge difference since the last time the Committee visited. There were new apartments and ablution facilities, the canteen facilities had been improved and all the broken windows had been fixed.   There had been concern about the woodwork workshop and skills department, but it had been upgraded. A completely new addition, a gym had been built, and it had been fully fitted out with new equipment. People were busy exercising when he visited the facility. It was gratifying to see the gym and how it was being used.

The Minister had raised the fact that the medical personnel at the centre needed a fully-fledged dispensary on the premises to see to the medication needs of the people.  She had also said security at the facility had to be intensified, because drugs were still slipping in from the informal settlements around it.

The return oversight had been attended by all the stakeholders. The Central Drug Authority (CDA), the Department of Social Development, as well as the relevant faith-based organisations, had been there. One thing that had come out strongly was the “Ke Moja” Concept. The Minister had indicated that it was a very good concept and that it was addressing challenges, but she was looking for something that could attract the youth. The relevant parties had to come up with a concept.

The Chairperson asked whether the oversight party had visited the old-age home.

Mr Bhoola replied that he had asked the MEC, but the programme had had to be adjusted due to bad weather conditions and the oversight party had not visited the old-age home on that day. However, he had had interactions with the old-age home in Chatsworth, where nurses were being trained. The nurses had felt prejudiced with regard to their allowances. In his interaction with the managers of the centre, he had learnt that they were keeping in line with the allocations that had been made available to the centre. Management would have wanted to give these nurses a bigger stipend, but were challenged in terms of the budget.

The Chairperson said Mr Bhoola’s comments on the Newlands rehabilitation Centre and the Chatsworth Old-Age Home had to be added to the report.

The report was adopted with amendments.

Outstanding Committee Minutes
The Chairperson tabled several outstanding minutes for consideration.


26 February 2013
Amendments:
Page 4, under the heading: “3. Deliberations and Concerns raised by the Committee”, the first sentence read:” The Committee expression over the fact that it finalised…” It should read: “The Committee expressed concern over the fact…”

Page 5, paragraph 5 read: “It pointed out…implemented fully, the department would require 60 000 social workers.” It should read: “…66 000 social workers.”

Page 5, the second bullet point under the heading “4. Resolutions” read: ”The department should be provided the committee with a detailed report on the social infrastructure development plan.”  It had to read: “The department should provide the Committee with a detailed report…”

Page 6, the last bullet point, the third sentence read:”They found that some beneficiaries received food parcels only once instead of three months or six months as stipulated by the policy.” It had to read: “They found that some beneficiaries received food parcels only once instead of three months or up to six months, if the financial situation did not improve, as stipulated by the policy.”

The minutes were adopted with amendments.

23 April 2013
Amendments

Page 2, under the heading “Opening and Welcome” it read: ”…and Ms More, E (DA), who were unable to attend the meeting.” This had to be taken out, because she did attend the meeting as indicated on Page 1 under the heading: ”Democratic Alliance”

The minutes were adopted with this amendment.

24 April 2013
Amendments

Page 5, the last bullet point stated that:” The Minister should…with NPO guidelines and Act.”  The point had been changed to read: “The Minister should ensure that the agency improved its profiling of funded projects as well as encourage NPOs to comply with the NPOs guidelines and Act.

The minutes were adopted with this amendment.

14 May 2013
Amendments

Page 4, under the heading: “3. Deliberations and concerns raised”, the second paragraph read: “The Committee expressed its concern regarding the shortage of social workers dealing with adoption process. The department explained that because adoption is a complex matter…” The word “because” had to be removed from the sentence.

The third paragraph read:”The Committee further raised concern that there were only 42 accredited adoption social workers and only the private sector could do adoptions.” The words “the private sector” had to be removed and replaced with the words “private adoption agencies”.

Page 5, the last bullet point reading: “It recommended that the department should consider having follow ups on adopted children… (inter-country adoptions)”. This sentence had to be removed, because this process was already part of adoption procedure.

Mr Waters raised the concern of adoption agencies which discriminated against prospective adoptive parents on the grounds of religious affiliation, sexual orientation or marital status. The Committee decided to add the following resolution:

“ Adoption agencies, whether national or international, which discriminated against prospective adoptive parents on the grounds of religion, sexual orientation or marital status should be prevented from facilitating the adoption of South African children.”

The minutes were adopted with amendments.

30 April and 4 June 2013

These minutes were adopted without any amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

Share this page: