Defence Amendment Bill: finalisation; Committee Legacy Report

NCOP Security and Justice

06 March 2019
Chairperson: Mr S Mthimunye (ANC, Mpumalanga)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

Documents handed outNCOP business continues despite dissolution of NA; Report of the Select Committee on Security and Justice on its activities undertaken during the 5th Parliament; Report of the Committee on Security and Justice on the oversight visit to the Gauteng Province

The Committee briefed on the oversight visit to Vanderbijlpark Police Station. This Report was adopted.

The Committee was briefed on their Legacy Report. The Legacy Report was adopted without any objections.

Before considering the Defence Amendment Bill, the Committee Members expressed concern that its worked was being hampered because certain political parties stayed away for meetings so that the Committee did not have a quorum and is not able to make decisions. It was agreed that this behaviour by the opposition should be publicised The Committee initially did not have a quorum but the EFF eventually joined the meeting and the Committee could adopt the Bill and the report on the bill.

Meeting report

Opening remarks by Chairperson

The Chairperson said that seven Members were needed to deal with the issues raised on the Defence Amendment Bill but at the moment only six Members were present. The Committee had received phone calls from the Members who were absent to inform them that they would be arriving arrive late. The Chairperson said they would proceed to discuss the other matters on the agenda which did not require a quorum and would get back to the Defence Amendment Bill later when all the Members had arrived. He referred Members to item 4 on the agenda which was the oversight visit to the Vanderbijlpark Police Station.

Briefing on the oversight visit to the Vanderbijlpark Police Station

Mr Gurshwyn Dixon, Committee Secretary, said the Committee was dealing with the Select Committee’s oversight visit to the Gauteng Province to conduct oversight of the Vanderbijlpark Police Station, and to oversee the working relationship between the SAPS (South African Police Services), the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Department of Correctional Services in Emfuleni to reduce crime in the area. The oversight visit took place 17 October 2018 but the Committee had only picked up on it recently because they were dealing with the Legacy Report. The oversight visit has already happened, but the Report had to be given to the Department so that it could respond to the recommendations of the Committee.  The recommendations are that the Department of Labour should continue to provide skills for incarcerated offenders. The Services Seta should be involved as well in offering offender rehabilitation programmes. The Committee also proposed that the DCS (Department of Correctional Services) should meet with the Department of Home Affairs to process foreign prisoners at the correctional facility.

Discussion

Mr J Mthethwa (ANC, KwaZulu-Natal) said that he did not feel that the report should be discussed at all because all Members of the Committee were part of the oversight visit. He then moved for the adoption of the Report and the recommendations.

Dr H Mateme (ANC, Limpopo) seconded the proposal and supported the motion.

The report on the oversight visit to the Vanderbijlpark Police Station was adopted.

Briefing on the Committee’s Legacy Report

Ms Anthea Van Der Burg, Content Advisor, Parliament, said that the Report was already circulated last year but she just wanted to take Members through the key highlights of the Report.

The Committee’s focus areas during the 5th Parliament were as follows:

  • Child justice;
  • Correctional services: overcrowding, rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders;
  • The distribution of benefits to Military Veterans;
  • SAPS- rural safety and stock theft as well as security measures at police stations;
  • The working relationships between SAPS, Justice, NPA, DCS; and
  • The challenge related to ageing infrastructure at buildings within the Criminal Justice Sector.

The key areas for future work were as follows:

  • Domestic violence, Sexual offences;
  • Overseeing the distribution of benefits for Military Veterans;
  • The overall challenges and obstacles encountered by the departments in the Criminal Justice Sector;
  • The Challenges Related to the Department of Public Works and infrastructure of developments, particularly in respect of correctional centres; and
  • SAPS-Analyse Crime Statistics and oversee the programmes which have been put in place to address the high crime in different provinces. Oversee the effective functioning if the Gang Unit launched in the Western Cape in 2018.

Key Challenges were as follows:

  • Ageing infrastructure;
  • Obstacles related to procurement policies in certain departments, particularly the Department of Defence;
  • Overcrowding, Gangsterism, staff vacancies at the Department of Correctional Services;
  • Magistrates suspensions-lengthy proceedings undertaken by the Magistrate’s Commission; and
  • SAPS-Crime Statistics-oversee what measures have been put in place by SAPS to reduce crime statistics. Ensure police stations are sufficiently resourced to address high crime.

Recommendations

  • Cluster sizes of committees remains a challenge in terms of completion of work in the respective committees;
  • Allocate sufficient time per Committee for oversight activities; and
  • Ensure that the Committee is afforded sufficient time to process legislation effectively.

Discussion

Mr D Ximbi (ANC, Western Cape) moved for the adoption of the Report.

Ms T Wana (ANC, Eastern Cape) seconded the motion.

In the absence of objections, the Chairperson confirmed that the Legacy Report has been duly adopted.

Minutes

Minutes of 27 February 2019

Ms G Oliphant (ANC, Northern Province) moved for the adoption of the minutes

Dr H Mateme (ANC, Limpopo) said the minutes were a true reflection of what transpired in the meeting.

The minutes were adopted.

Defence Amendment Bill: consideration

Mr Mthethwa said that there was no excuse for any Members to be absent from this meeting because everyone was informed of the agenda beforehand. Therefore everyone was fully aware and absence was therefore akin to sabotage.

The Chairperson asked for guidance about whether he should go public on this matter regarding the behaviour of the opposition.

Dr Mateme expressed concern about this situation. She noted that every Committee had a Whip who was supposed to be able to work across political parties because the person was not just a political party Whip but a Committee Whip. She felt that those people should suffer the consequences of their behaviour.

Mr Mthethwa said that the Chairperson was the right person to go public on this issue. People are using other tactics to delay serving the people, As the Whip he always phoned people when they did not appear at the meetings. He expressed his full support of the Chairperson’s decision to go public about the behaviour of the opposition.

An ANC Member said that these people wasted the taxpayer’s because they did not attend meetings.

The Chairperson suggested that all the Cluster Chairpersons should come together in support of this issue.

The Chairperson handed over to the Department of Defence (DoD) to talk to the status of the Bill.

Adv Tameshni Ramcharant, Legal Advisor, DoD, said that the Bill was adopted the previous week without amendments. One of the reasons for adopting it in its current form is because of the time constraints.

The Chairperson clarified that the Bill was not adopted

Adv Ramcharant apologised and said that the in principle adoption was a resolution to keep it ‘unamended’ because of the rising of the National Assembly on 20 March. There would not have been enough time to move the amendment according to the processes.

The Chairperson informed Members that even if the National Assembly is dissolved the business of the NCOP would continue till 7 May. The House would remain competent to function and make decisions until that time even if it was a day before the elections.  So if that was the main concern, then there was the opportunity to move the Bill with that amendment until 7 May.

Her only concern was that the parliamentary statement says that on 28 March the NCOP had to rise. The current situation was that the Bill could not be adopted because this meeting did not quorate.

[The EFF Member arrived and the Committee was quorate]

Ms T Mokwele (EFF, North West) interjected and reassured Adv Ramcharant that she was present and the Committee could vote on the matter.

The Chairperson said that last week the understanding as per the submission was that this amendment was only a consequential amendment.

Adv Ramcharant said the position as regards the Bill remains the same. It is a consequential amendment but obviously if it can be moved now, it would remove the hassle of doing it next year, and if there was time then why not do it now?

Ms Oliphant said that Adv Ramcharant was unnecessarily concerned because the Committee wanted to adopt the Bill so that before they left by the 28 March, this Bill had to go through to the House.

An official said that there was not much more to say on this. The issue was about the time frames so there was a window for the Parliamentary Committee to deal with it. They were sitting at the moment and they would like to have the Bill processed with the amendment.

The Chairperson asked if there was an awareness of the risk implications.  

This person from the legal team said that they were aware.

An official said that there is a restriction according to Section 103 but there was clarity about this in Section 15. There are two amendments, Section 15 and 103.

An official said that they were not going to move the amendment for Clause 15. It was just the consequential amendment and one had to be aware of its alignment. The worst scenario was if one did not make the time and then the Bill might have to be revised. In that event it would mean still having to come back if it was adopted as is. That was the worst case scenario at this point. That was why the Department was persuaded to have the Bill adopted as is. But now that it has come to the attention of the legal team, who felt it was worthwhile going for the amendment, considering that it was a necessary amendment. This would mean that the Department will not have to come back unnecessarily for the amendment. Finally he agreed with the Department to push for the amendment at this stage.

Mr Ximbi proposed the adoption of the Bill with the proposed amendment.

Dr Mateme seconded the proposal. She felt there was no harm in accepting it as is as it was explained. The Committee had fulfilled all the requirements so the Bill should be adopted.

The Chairperson asked if there were any other viewpoints on the matter.

The Committee Members said that there were none.

The Chairperson said that the Bill was ‘agreed to’ with amendments.

Committee Report on Bill

The Chairperson reminded Members that the Report had to be prepared for the House for the Bill to be adopted.

An official asked if he could draw Members’ attention to the Report. Here he referred Members to the fact that the Bill was drafted with Section 15 which will be removed as there would only be Section 103. Section 15 would be moved to Section 2 of the Report. With regard to consideration of the last page which speaks to ‘consensus of the Bill’ he said that the DA (Democratic Alliance) was not present which meant that there was no objection. He therefore proposed a move for consensus of the Bill to indicate that it was agreed to unanimously.

Members were all in agreement with this.

Ms Oliphant moved for the adoption of the Bill.

The Chairperson interjected and said that it was a ‘Report’.

Ms Oliphant corrected herself and said ‘Report’.

Ms T Wana (ANC, Eastern Cape) seconded the motion.

The Chairperson said the Report was agreed to.

The legal team thanked the Committee for their interaction and support and said that they looked forward to seeing the Committee again.

The meeting was adjourned.

Share this page: