Embrace Dignity Petition Report: adoption; Chiawelo Petition Report: deferred

NCOP Petitions and Executive Undertakings

07 September 2016
Chairperson: Mr S Thobejane (Limpopo, ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings considered the Embrace Dignity Report (Petition requesting the intervention of the NCOP in ensuring an end to all forms of sexual oppression against women); and the Chiawelo Petition Report (Petition on alleged noise disturbance emanating from Unity Fellowship Church in Chiawelo Extension Township, Gauteng Province)

The Committee considered and adopted the Embrace Dignity Report (Petition requesting the intervention of the NCOP in ensuring an end to all forms of sexual oppression against women), which would be taken for tabling in the House.

The Committee deferred the adoption of the Chiawelo Petition Report to allow further engagements with the different stakeholders that are involved in the matter.

The Committee adopted three sets of outstanding Committee minutes dated 4 May 2016 and 25 May 2016 without amendment. Minutes of 18 May 2016 were adopted, noting the objection of Mr Michalakis.

Meeting report

Draft Report of the Embrace Dignity Petition Report
The Committee considered the report page by page.

The Chairperson said under recommendations a recommendation should be included that further investigation on the matter was needed, and also a study tour should be conducted so as to learn what other countries like Sweden were doing on the issue of sexual oppression against women. And also seek assistance from other Committees and from the Department of Women what it was doing in this regard in order to know the advantages and disadvantages of legalising the whole process.

Ms G Manopole (Northern Cape, ANC) said the word “prostitute” in the report should be replaced with the words “sex worker”.

Mr M Mohapi (Free State, ANC) said that the Committee needed to distinguish between what was before it and what was said in the report. The submission talked about false prostitution and sexual trafficking. It would be prudent for the Committee to stick to that and not necessarily qualify it to sexual workers because whenever they were relating to issues of sexual workers, that was where it was said the role being played should be legislated to be classified as sexual workers, hence they were clarifying the issue of sexual workers to be happening amongst others and there was a concern somewhere there. However, in terms of the current legislation it could be realised they were proposing decriminalisation of the said act. Therefore, based on the submission by the Chairperson that it would be better for the Committee to embark on a study tour to go and get a sense of a different model that would be applicable so as to address this particular challenge, the Committee should recommend that firstly they take note of the submission made by Embrace Dignity Petition. Secondly, that on the issue of the South African Law Review Commission the Committee should encourage the Minister to expedite the publishing of the report.

The Committee could not have authority in terms of establishing a Committee, particularly the Joint Committee. However, the Committee could recommend the establishment of the Joint Committee to deal with this matter.

Mr Mohapi said for the Committee to concretise their position on this particular submission there was a need for the Committee to embark on a study tour to explore methodologies and models that were applicable in other countries.

The Chairperson emphasised that the Committee would encourage the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development to fast track the publication and if it would not be an offence to ask it to be confidential so as to see what exactly was happening so that when the Committee looked at other countries they had an idea of what their own Government was moving towards on resolving this matter. Therefore, the report as a Committee would be a preliminary report awaiting a comprehensive understanding of what they had satisfied themselves in terms of their recommendation, also looking at the situation in a South African context.

The Committee adopted the report.

Draft Report on Chiawelo Extension Petition Report
Ms Monopole said she did not have a chance to read through the report and it was important that Members applied their minds to this report. She requested that the Committee be given an opportunity to read through the report.

Ms B Engelbrecht (Gauteng, DA) said she received the report earlier and had applied her mind. Whenever there was a court date the church did not bother to attend the court proceedings. The church had disrespect of the rule of law, it was illegal and its activities were illegal. The Committee needed to decide what powers it had because the court had already decided that the church was operating illegally. The City of Johannesburg, metro policy and the community of Chiawelo had already been involved in this issue complaining that the activities of the church were illegal. The legal advisor should assist the Committee in terms of what powers it had and what it should do in this regard.

Mr G Michalakis (Free State, DA) said the Committee should be careful with this report and look if it fell under the Committee’s jurisdiction and to what extent there were further judgements from the court which influenced whether they could do something about this matter. The fact that they did not have a petitions’ office to see whether this petition fell within their jurisdiction had two effects. One was that a lot of the time they received petitions that dealt with matters that had already been decided to a certain extent or already been probed by other arms of the state, which is judiciary, and the Committee could not make any decisions on matters that are before the court.

Secondly, the Committee received petitions that did not fall under their ability to grant a form of relief, for example, the Embrace Dignity Petition which fell within the Committee’s jurisdiction to make a recommendation because it was about national legislation. As a Committee they could only make recommendations to provinces and especially to municipal authorities.  It was important for the Committee to first get clarity from the legal advisor in terms of how to proceed with the matter, to what extent they could make any decision in as far as the court judgements were concerned.

The Chairperson said, as with the other petitions where the court had pronounced judgements they would appreciate and acknowledge those judgements, and only focus on the implementation of that judgement because the court had stated that the church was arrogant to society, and did not promote social cohesion. The Committee needed to check whether the municipality had implemented the decision of the court and if not, why not.

Ms Manopole proposed that the municipality should fast track this process of implementing the court judgement so as not to antagonise the community and the church, and to give Committee an update on the matter. Also the municipality should fast track the rezoning application for the church to be taken to another area.

Mr Mohapi seconded his colleagues emphasising that it is clear there are other processes that need to be followed before they as a Committee could make any recommendations on this matter. But if the report is concluded outside court they should first take note of the report. Secondly, they will need an update on the legal battles amongst the relevant stakeholders. Thirdly, based on the submission made by the legal advisor of the City of Johannesburg, to hold any process that has to do with legal battle and encouraged a process of engagement between the parties involved including the complainant, and within two to three months, the Committee should get a progress report in that regard.

Mr Mohapi suggested that as a Committee they are recommending that prior to negotiations there must be clear terms of reference of what informs the negotiations and what binding are issues in the negotiations.

Ms Manopole suggested that there should also be a mediator in the negotiations.

The Chairperson agreed that the mediator was very important in this regard. The Committee would conclude the report with the recommendations agreed upon as a Committee.

Adoption of Minutes
Minutes of Committee meetings held on 4 May 2016 and 25 May 2016 were adopted un-amended.

Minutes of 18 May 2016
Mr Michalakis objected to the adoption of the minutes stating that the minutes were not the true reflection of the meeting because on point 9 of the minutes the MEC and the Premier of Western Cape made a note that they would not make that date and there were legal submissions from them (MEC and the Premier) with regard to the Committee’s jurisdiction. They did not need to include extensive paragraphs on this matter, but the submissions should be included in the minutes.

Ms Manopole said it was a true reflection, and propose adoption of the minutes.

Mr Michalakis objected to the adoption of minutes.

Ms T Mokwele (EFF) said that they should add amendments to the minutes by incorporating the submissions of the MEC and the Premier of the Western Cape.

The Committee adopted the minutes, noting the objection of Mr Michalakis.

The Chairperson thanked the Committee Members for their inputs.

The meeting was adjourned.


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