Films and Publications Amendment Bill; South African Citizenship Amendment Bill: briefing and adoption

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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


12 August 2004

Chairperson: Ms J Masilo (ANC, North West)

Relevant Documents
Films and Publications Amendment Bill [B61-2003]
South African Citizenship Amendment Bill [B55-2003]

The Committee was briefed by the Department of Home Affairs on the Films and Publications Amendment Bill as approved by the National Assembly and on the South African Citizenship Amendment Bill. The Committee adopted the two Bills unanimously.

Films and Publications Amendment Bill: Briefing
Advocate K Malatji (Head of Legal Services, Department of Home Affairs) said that although several provisions had been introduced and amended in the Bill, the most important amendment was that regarding child pornography. The principal Act was silent on the issue and there was no clear criminalisation and punishment particularly for Internet pornography. The Bill was an attempt to rectify this. It also imposed an obligation on Internet Service Providers (ISP's) to register with the Films and Publications Board (FPB). There was now an obligation on any person with knowledge of any practice of this offence to report this to the police.

The positions of Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the FPB were also introduced in the Bill.

Provision was made for the criminalisation of possession of child pornographic material and for extra-territorial jurisdiction in the matter.

Ms Masilo noted that no representatives of the Director General's Office were present at the meeting.

Mr J Thlagale (UCDP, North West) felt the Bill should have gone further and looked at adult pornography
such as films shown at midnight on television. He felt that this constituted a rape risk and that such material should be abolished from a Christian point of view.

Mr M Robertson (ANC, Eastern Cape) interjected that children should be asleep by midnight.

Ms Masilo asked for an explanation of Section 5 (2).

Adv Malatji explained that in the past, the Board had been appointed by the President but that it would now be appointed by the Minister. "Minister" had therefore been substituted for "President".

Ms Masilo noted that a Telkom representative was at the meeting as an observer. She confirmed that no
Telkom briefing had been set for the meeting.

Mr M Sulliman (ANC, Northern Cape) asked whether Telkom had made a presentation to the National Assembly.

Mr B Tolo (ANC, Limpopo) said that the Committee had hoped to finalise the Bill that day.

Mr T Setona (ANC, Free State) reiterated that the ANC had no fundamental problems with the Bill. He felt that it was important for the Department of Home Affairs to give a brief explanation of Telkom's involvement in the process for the record. There had been some problems with previous Bills because of an apparent lack of consultation.

Mr Tolo wanted the Department to clarify what Telkom wanted in the Bill and whether this had been incorporated. He also asked about the legal position.

Adv Malatji said there had been hearings and presentations by interested parties including Board members and the State Law Advisor. The Bill was a product of these deliberations. To the best of his knowledge, the Bill represented what had been agreed to after deliberation and interaction.

Mr O Kellner (State Law Advisor) said that he had nothing to add.

Ms Masilo asked for an explanation of Telkom's input.

Adv Malatji said that after deliberation, the Department had gone back and looked at issues raised. He did not recall what had been omitted.

Mr Tolo confirmed that all parties had been asked for their views and all concurred, so the Bill was to be taken clause by clause. He called out each clause number and the Committee agreed unanimously.

Mr Tolo read the Motion of Desirability of the Bill and all parties agreed that the Bill was desirable. He read the Report of the Committee adopting the Bill. The Bill was adopted unanimously.

South African Citizenship Amendment Bill: Briefing
Adv Malatji said that the Bill called for the repeal of one section and its replacement with another.

Section 9 of the principal Act made provision for the Minister to deprive someone of their citizenship. The Bill repealed this section.

Section 26b was being introduced into the Act to make provision for penalties for those persons who abused their citizenship.

Section 1 of the Bill was a repeal of Section 9.

Section 2 was the introduction of Section 26b
Mr Tolo said that many Bills provided for penalties of a fine, imprisonment or both. He asked why the imposition of both penalties had not been included in this Bill.

Adv Malatji said that this would not be a problem and that it was at Parliament's discretion.

Mr Setona asked the State Legal Advisor whether a fine, imprisonment or both penalties rendered it more severe.

Mr Kellner said that the court would fine a certain amount and impose a sentence that was usually suspended. The person would pay his fine and the sentence would be added to a new sentence if he committed the offence again. He said that it would be a heavier sentence to impose both penalties but that it was more usual for the court to give the option of a fine.

Mr Setona asked about practical reasons for the Bill. He wondered whether specific incidences had shown a legal gap. He was concerned that not giving the option of a penalty of both a fine and imprisonment was not giving the courts sufficient options.

Mr Kellner repeated that the courts seldom imposed both penalties. In his opinion this was not a problem.

Adv Malatji said that even where an Act provided for both penalties, their imposition was very rare. He said that imprisonment was the more severe sentence.

Mr Sulliman asked whether the common law did not already deal with this issue.

Ms J Vilakazi (IFP, KwaZulu-Natal) asked whether it was common practice for people to use other passports as detailed in the Bill or whether the Bill was a reaction to a specific incidence.

Mr Tolo asked what "gain advantage" referred to. He asked what the Department would consider a minor offence and gave the example of a person avoiding conscription.

Adv Malatji replied that no serious case had arisen but that people had misused dual citizenship. According to the Constitution, a person cannot be deprived of citizenship so penalties had had to be put in place.

Mr Kellner said that the reason for the Bill was to bring the Act in line with the Constitution.

Ms Masilo called upon the Deputy Chair to present the Bill for adoption.

Mr Setona called out each clause number and the Committee agreed unanimously.

He then read the Motion of Desirability of the Bill and all parties agreed that the Bill was desirable. He read the Report of the Committee adopting the Bill. The Bill was adopted unanimously.

Mr Sulliman suggested that, at the presentation of the Bills to the NCOP, one Member should be asked to make a statement in respect of the South African Citizenship Amendment Bill. He recommended a brief debate on the Films and Publications Amendment Bill.

Ms Masilo asked if the Committee agreed, and Mr Sulliman's suggestions were adopted.

The meeting was adjourned.


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