Deeds Registries Amendment Bill; Section Titles Amendment Bill: adoption

Rural Development and Land Reform

11 September 2013
Chairperson: Mr J Thibedi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee discussed its one proposed amendment to the Deeds Registries Amendment Bill. This amendment dealt with instances of a woman changing her name due to a change in marital status. The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform felt that the amendment was not necessary as the status of spouses in civil unions was stipulated in the Civil Unions Act. Members briefly discussed the roles of partners in a same sex marriage. On consideration, it was agreed that the clause should be amended to refer to a 'person' instead of a 'woman', and that a similar amendment be made to the heading.

The Deeds Registries Amendment Bill was adopted, with amendments.

The Committee accepted its proposed amendment to the Sectional Titles Amendment Bill. This was due to the repeal of the Act which defined the term 'land surveyor' and its pending replacement by a new Act. A late public submission was raised on the management of sectional title schemes, but the Department assured Members that all sectional title management functions had been removed from this Act and placed in the Sectional Title Schemes Management Act under the custodianship of the Department of Human Settlements.

The Sectional Titles Amendment Bill was adopted, with amendments.

Meeting report

The Chairperson apologised for the late start as he had been unable to leave an earlier meeting. Some apologies were tabled, including apologies from the Minister, Deputy Minister and Director-General. The Deeds Registries Amendment and Sectional Titles Amendment Bills had been finalised at an earlier meeting, but there was still a flagged clause in each of these Bills which needed to be interrogated.

Deeds Registries Amendment Bill
Ms Antoinette Reynolds, Deputy Registrar of Deeds, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR), said that the original amendment referred to a women who assumed her husband's surname, or reverted to her previous name. This might also apply in the case of a civil union between two men. When new legislation was promulgated, the chief of the Deeds Office scrutinised it to determine any effect on their work. The preamble of the Act addressed the question of civil unions. Any reference to marriage should include civil unions. The reference to a husband, wife or spouse should include a civil union partner. These marriages did not have any impact on the Deeds Registries or Sectional Titles Act. It was therefore not really necessary to amend clause 6. There might be confusion if there was only a reference to civil unions. She felt that the current definition was adequate.

The Chairperson felt that the Bill would stand constitutional scrutiny, given the explanation offered. Including a clause to specify civil unions could lead to further amendments. There was no significant bearing on the deed.

Mr K Mileham (DA) acknowledged the work done by DRDLR. However, he felt that clause (c) specifically referred to a woman and not a wife.

Mr M Swathe (DA) wanted clarity on the question of civil unions. He did not know if these were given the same status as a marriage.

Ms Ngwenya-Mabila understood that the civil union would be a marriage between two people of the same sex, but one would term his or herself the 'wife' and the other the 'husband'. This made the union a marriage. She thought that the proposal was acceptable. The partners themselves knew which role they played.

Ms N November (ANC) also agreed with the proposal.

Ms Reynolds said that the Civil Union Act was not clear on this. The term 'spouse' was not defined as a husband being the male partner. DRDLR did not have a problem with the Committee’s proposed amendment, but felt the Civil Union Act was clear enough. They would accept amending 'woman' to 'person'.

Ms Ntombi Mnyikiso, State Law Adviser (SLA), had considered the matter and concluded that the proposed amendment was not necessary. The Civil Union Act was clear.

The Chairperson asked that the proposal to disregard the proposed amendment be accepted.

Mr Swathe felt that 'person' would cover all cases.

The Chairperson asked if the terms 'husband and wife' would cover all situations. The law would not want to know which partner in a civil union would play which role. Using 'person' might bring other connotations.

Ms Reynolds said that the Civil Union Act did not have a schedule to amend any other legislation. The Matrimonial Property Act made provision for marriages in or out of community of property, and this Act made provision for same sex marriages. She did not see a reason to amend the Deeds Registries Act on this aspect.

Mr Mileham was not concerned by the differences between a husband, wife or spouse. However, the use of 'woman' made it explicit that the legislation would only apply to female. Changing this to 'person' would cover all cases. The proposed amendment was a good one.

The Chairperson noted the agreement of Members. The amendment to clause 6(c) was adopted. He announced that the Deeds Registries Amendment Bill was adopted, with amendments.

The Committee Secretary read the Committee Report on the Deeds Registries Amendment Bill. Members adopted the report.

Ms Reynolds said that the heading in the Bill also referred to women. This should be amended to 'persons' in light of the amendment.

Sectional Title Amendment Bill
Ms Reynolds said that the Sectional Title Act referred to a ‘land surveyor’. The definition should now refer to that of a 'land surveyor' as contained in the Act of 1997, as the previous Act, the Professional and Technical Surveyors Act of 1984, had been repealed. The Geomatics Professions Bill made provision for the definition of a 'land surveyor'.

The Chairperson noted the approval of Members. He understood that the Sectional Titles Regulation Board would meet the following day.

Mr Mileham said that there was a public submission on management rules. The Committee would have referred it to the Board. It would be pedantic to ignore this submission as the Board would only consider it the following day after the Committee had adopted the Bill. The submission should be properly considered before the Bill went to the National Assembly (NA).

Ms Reynolds had not attended the meeting where this had been discussed. The section in question had been repealed by the Sectional Title Schemes Management Act. This Act now fell within the ambit of the Department of Human Settlements (DHS). DRDLR could no longer amend these sections. The Board would not have the jurisdiction to amend the sections. A Schedule had removed all the managerial functions from the Sectional Titles Act.

Mr George Tsotetsi, Register of Deeds, DRDLR said that Mr Mileham was referring to a matter raised by a member of the public.

The Chairperson said that the submission was made by a Mr Clarke.

Ms Mnyikiso said that there had been some typographic errors. These should be corrected before the Bill was approved.

The Committee Secretary read the Committee Report on the Sectional Titles Amendment Bill. The Committee had adopted the Bill with amendments.

The Chairperson announced that the Bill was adopted, with amendments. DRDLR would correct the errors referred to by Ms Mnyikiso before referring it to the NA.

The Chairperson said that there was now clarity on the issues raised.

Invitations to Members
The Committee Secretary read out an invitation to attend a briefing on the status of genetically modified foodstuffs on 13 September 2013. This would be hosted by the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Mr R Cebekhulu (IFP) would attend the meeting as he was already a Member of that Committee.

The Chairperson asked Mr Cebekhulu to represent this Committee. Members had other engagements and could not change their plans at short notice.

The Committee Secretary read an invitation from the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) to attend a summit on 19-20 September 2013 in Johannesburg.

Ms P Xaba (ANC) offered to attend the summit. Mr Mileham would try to attend the summit as well.

Adoption of Minutes of Meeting on 21 August 2013
The Chairperson asked Members to consider the minutes of the meeting held on 21 August 2013.

Ms P Ngwenya-Mabila (ANC) queried the letter written by the Afrikanerbond.

The Chairperson acknowledged that the letter had been received by the Committee. The minutes were adopted.

The meeting was adjourned.


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