Judicial Officers Amendment Bill; Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters: voting; Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill: delibe

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Justice and Correctional Services

19 June 2003
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
20 June 2003
JUDICIAL OFFICERS AMENDMENT BILL; RSA/CHINA TREATY ON MUTUAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE IN CRIMINAL MATTERS: VOTING; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE AMENDMENT BILL: DELIBERATION

Chairperson
: Adv J H De Lange (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Judicial Officers (Conditions of Services) Amendment Bill
Explanatory Memo: Treaty Between the Republic of South Africa and the People's Republic of China on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters
Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill [B 57-2002]
Proposed Amendments to Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill (Steyn)
Amara Provision (New Clause 1 in the Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill)

SUMMARY
Judicial Officers (Conditions of Services) Amendment Bill was adopted unanimously with amendments.

MINUTES
Judicial Officers (Conditions of Services) Amendment Bill: voting
The Chair went through the Bill, clause by clause.

Long Title
The Committee concurred that the first paragraph of the long title should be amended so as to state that: To amend the Magistrates' Court Act, 1994, so as to further regulate the appointment of [acting] magistrates in the acting or temporary capacity; and"

While the fifth paragraph should be amended so as to read as follows: "To amend the Judges' Remuneration and Conditions of Employment Act, 2001, so as to- * further regulate the remuneration of judges;
* bring the provisions relating to benefits accruing to surviving
spouses or heterosexual or same sex partners of judges in line with the decision of the Constitutional Court; and"

Clause 1 - Amendment of Section 9 of the Magistrates' Court Act, 1944
Mr J De Lange (Legal Advisor: Department of Justice) explained that it should be noted that in terms of this new provision, Section 9(3) would now be regarded as the deeming provision.

The Committee accepted Clauses 2; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12; 13; 14; 15; 16; 17; 18; 19 and 20 as they are.

Clause 3 - Substitution of Section 12 of Act 90 of 1993
The Chair asked Mr De Lange to refine this clause so that it could be in line with the changes made to the first paragraph of the long title. Further proposed that "in consultation with the Cabinet member responsible for finance" be removed in Section 12(5)(a)(ii) since such money would in any event be coming from the department's budget and thus there would be no need of such consultation.

Clause 21 - Short Title and Commencement
Mr J Jeffery (ANC) proposed that the commencement of this Bill should be on the 1st November 2003 and not on the 1 October as proposed in this Clause.

The Committee concurred with the proposal.

The Chair then read the Committee report, both the Bill and the report were unanimously adopted.

Treaty between the Republic of South Africa and the People's Republic of China on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters
The Chair noted that this treaty is in terms of Section 231 of the Constitution and is intended to establish mutual legal assistance between the Republic of South Africa and People's Republic of China in criminal matters. He thereafter read the Committee report, which recommend that the House should approve this treaty in terms of its powers as granted by Section 231(2) of the Constitution.

The Committee unanimously adopted the report.

Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill (Steyn Judgment)
Clause 1 - Amendment of Section 309 of Act 51 of 1977
Proposed Amendments to Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill
The Chair noted that this provision is aimed to be children friendly and that is why it is called the Amara provision after MP Ms Chohan-Khota's daughter. With this, it should not make any difference whether the person was legally represented or not at the trial.

The Committee concurred that paragraph one of Clause 1(a) should be removed, in order to ensure that it remains children friendly.

The Chair further proposed that a provision containing the age limit of such person when the conviction is imposed should also be inserted. Therefore it should read as follows "provided that if that person - was, at the time of conviction of the offence, not older than 21 years".

Ms F Chohan-Khota (ANC) noted that such provision is not necessary as some court cases prolong over a very long period of time before a decision on them is reached.

Mr Jeffery said that indeed it would be important to have a time limit taking into account the age of the offender at the time the sentence was imposed since that would make it easier to determine his/her state of mind or capacity when he/she was convicted.

Ms Chohan-Khota submitted and proposed that the age limit should then be 21 years, so as to cater for those instances where the cases have been prolonged between the time of the commission of the offence and the time of conviction.

The Committee concurred with the proposal.

Mr De Lange was wary that this provision would grant these children an automatic right to appeal and thus drew the Committee's attention to that effect.

The Chair acknowledged that and then noted that the department should thus refine the wording of this new provision. In doing so the department should also take into account the provisions of the CPA applicable in this regard and also ensure that the words "not older than 21 years" are put between the brackets, so that the Committee could be able to consider this furtherin its next meeting.

It was noted that the words "irrespective of whether that imprisonment was suspended or imposed as an alternative to the payment of fine" in paragraph three of Clause 1(a) should be deleted and a new sentence to this effect "where such a term is not wholly suspended" be inserted.

The Department will rewrite this Clause as proposed by the Committee.

Clause 2 - Substitution of Sections 309B and 309C of Act 51 of 1977
The Chair noted that the department had made a lot of changes in this Clause and as such they have left out some of the important provisions that were captured by the previous drafts. He then proposed that the Committee should deferr the discussion on this to its next meeting, as that would allow members an opportunity go through the current Bill, as well as the previous drafts.

The Committee concurred.

Clause 6
Mr Du Preez requested the Committee to look at the provisions of Clause 6 as they are a new addition to the Bill.

The Chair noted that an additional column containing a bail application should be added to the existing ones. He also noted that there should be a provision requiring the Directorate of Public Prosecutions to prioritise its cases based on the seriousness of the offence.

Adv M Masutha (ANC) noted that a provision should be inserted in S342E(2) that would stipulate a time frame in the cases handled by the DPP after they have commenced.

The Chair agreed and noted that should the DPP wish to prolong the case over that period then they should show one of the two things:
- exceptional circumstances requiring the case to be so prolonged
- or else that there are no consequences to carry on with it.

The meeting was adjourned.

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