Beijing plus five Conference report; Committee programme

Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


17 May 2000

Relevant Documents
Committee Programme: March - June 2000
Mpumalanga Report (attached to end of minutes)
Western Cape Report

The South African report for the Beijing plus Five conference was unavailable for discussion as it is to be presented to Cabinet only next week. Committee members were unhappy about this as they believed this committee should approve it. They agreed to be available for an emergency meeting during constituency week (29/5 – 2/6/2000) should the report be made available for presentation to the committee before the New York conference.

Committee members agreed that recommendations to the Minister as a result of the provincial visits wait until all the provinces have been visited and common problems identified. The committee will divide into groups to visit the next round of provinces: Kwa Zulu Natal, Eastern Cape and Northern Province. The committee finalised this session’s committee programme.

Beijing Plus Five
The Beijing Plus Five conference is to be held in New York from 5 to 9 June. All participating countries are expected to submit reports on what they have done in the five years since the last Beijing conference (China 1995). The Chairperson informed the committee that the South African report is ready but could not be presented in this meeting as the report has to be presented to Cabinet. She explained that she has been following this up and learnt that the report would only be presented to Cabinet during Parliament’s constituency week (29 May to the 2 June 2000. Committee members were concerned as they strongly felt that the report needs to be presented to the committee before it goes to New York. One committee member raised the issue that the drawing up of the report had not involved all committee members and as such it was important to present it to the committee to ensure full agreement. Another committee member suggested that a letter be written to the person overseeing the report – to complain that the report was not available for presentation before them. It was further suggested that a meeting be held with this person to communicate the committee’s unhappiness concerning this issue. The Chairperson suggested that she continue to pursue the report and enquired from the committee whether members would be able to attend an urgent meeting if called for next week. The committee members agreed to this.

On the issue of the delegation to New York, an invitation had not yet been received for the parliamentarians though it had been indicated that five delegates are required. She noted that there is a need to meet with the Speaker for clarification on who is going and who will lead the delegation.

Some committee members indicated an interest in making suggestions on who should form part of the delegation. It was decided that it was important to follow set procedure in respect of electing delegates. The issue was left at this.

Committee Programme
The committee agreed to the meetings held on the following dates:
24th May 2000 - Department of Finance
7th June 2000 - Department of Health
21st June 2000 - Office of the Status of Women (Gender audit)
Members further agreed that a meeting with the Department of Justice and Portfolio Committee on Justice on the legal status of statutory rape be held after the recess.

Provincial Visits
There are seven provinces that have not yet been visited. The committee will divide into two or three groups to visit the different remaining provinces and a report will be compiled for each provincial visit. The provinces already dealt with are Western Cape, Mpumalanga, and Northern Cape though the latter requires more information to be collected from it. The next targeted for visit are Kwa Zulu Natal, Eastern Cape and Northern Province. No conclusion was reached on which committee members visit which province.

Reports on Provincial Visits
The Chairperson stated that reading the reports on Western Cape and Mpumalanga, it is clear that the two provinces have similar problems. As such she suggested that a committee task team look at the reports and establish recommendations. One committee member indicated that it is obvious in these reports that implementation of legislation is the problem and thus women at the ground level are not being assisted. She was concern that if a task team was established, it will be a long procedure that would take a while to complete.

The Chairperson reminded all present that it had been agreed upon before the start of this venture that laws cannot be made, their implementation must also be followed up. With this in mind and the information from the provinces at hand, the Minister of Justice can be called for discussion on laws that are not working and that need to be changed. The committee agreed that all provinces must be visited and reports compiled to clarify which laws are not working in all the provinces. It was suggested that in the interim, the committee issues notice to the Minister that they are undertaking these investigations and will present the problems identified to him upon completion of the investigations.


Appendix 1:

Report on visit to Nelspruit by delegation of Joint Monitoring

Committee on Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Women (17 April


A delegation of the committee visited Nelspruit, Mpumalanga with a view to

meeting with magistrates, SA Police Services Commissioners, and prosecutors.

The meeting formed part of the committee's investigation into the

difficulties experienced by the SAPS, magistrates and prosecutors in each of

the provinces with regard to implementing the National Instruction on the

Domestic Violence Act, and the Maintenance Act. The committee aims to send

delegations to every province in this regard. The meeting of 17 April 2000

was held at the Drum Rock Complex, Nelspruit.

The delegation comprised:

Ms M P Themba, Deputy Chairperson, Ms B Thompson, Mrs J A Semple and Ms I


In attendance were:

South African Police Services:

Supt John Nkuna (Superentendent: Lowveld)

Supt P C Vogel (Superentendent: Training)

Director M B Magaguza (Director: HRM)

Senior Superentendent M M Tlou (SAPS Detectives)

Assistant Commissioner J F Gibulela

Director C L Lentoane (Highveld)

Assistant Director L C Tholo (DDL Nelspruit)

Supt S L Mashiyane (Secunda)

Mr D I Moraba Acting Commissioner Mpumalanga

Nongovernmental Organisatons:

Ms R B Maile (Nurse: Ka Bokweni)

Ms N D Nkosi (Co-ordinator: Nkomazi Advice Office)


Mrs F E van Rooyen (Control Prosecutor: Magistrates Office - Barberton)

Mr V Joubert (Control Prosecutor: Magistrates Office - Nelspruit)

Mr T O Ngwenya (Control Prosecutor: Magistrates Office - Lydenburg)

Mr A van Wyk Control Prosecutor Witrivier


Mr D D Ngobeni (Head of Cluster - Mpumalanga)

Mr H T Gama (Magistrate - Mdutjana)

Mr P J Venter (Magistrate - Evander)

Mr Mokoena (Magistrate - Kwa-Mhlanga)

Mr H A Marais (Magistrate - Barberton)

Mr H Labuschagne (Magistrate - Piet Retief)

Mr F C Nel (Magistrate - Standerton)

Mr L S Froneman (Magistrate - Balfour)

Mr G A J F Gous (Magistrate - Middelburg)

Mr J J Mahlangu (Magistrate - Mkobola)

Mrs R Terblanche (Magistrate - Moutse)

Mr H P Ferreira (Magistrate - Witbank)

Mr R M Chirwa (Magistrate - Eerstehoek)

Mr H P van der Walt (Magistrate - Groblersdal)

Mr J C Venter (Magistrate - Nsikazi)

Mr D D Ngobeni welcomed all present. Mrs P Themba introduced the delegation

and explained the reason for the visit.


A. Domestic Violence Act and National Instruction

1. Application forms for domestic violence interdicts (shorter forms

requested, more staff requested)

Mr Jan Venter (Magistrate - Nsikazi, stationed at Kabokweni) mentioned that

the application forms meant extra work. Most applicants in the area cannot

write, and therefore need the services of a clerk. Filling in the forms are

time consuming, because they are so long and it means that the Magistrates

Office will need to to consider employing additional personnel, because of

long queues.

Mr L S Froneman (Magistrate - Balfour) had the same objection with regard to

the new form on maintenance: The new maintenance form is too long and should

be revised and simplified. Applicants stand in long queues and the

magistrate's office often has one clerk available to fill in the forms.

2. Language problem (interpreting staff needed)

Mr L S Froneman (Magistrate - Balfour) added that the language barrier was a

problem. Applicants often did not understand the language printed on the

form, and interpreters are not always available. He added that the problem

occurred with regard to all languages in the area.

3. South African Police Services

a) SAPS send complainants (re domestic violence) on to the magistrate's


Mr Jan Venter reported that when a woman wants to charge a man with regard

to domestic violence, the SA Police Services are inclined to tell her to

apply for a family violence interdict, and therefore they send her to the


b) Returning warrants of arrest

Mr Venter added that with regard to the Maintenance Act, they also

experience problems with the SA Police Services and returning warrants of


c) Serving of process:

The SA Police Services do not state the way in which they have served a

document, and on the return date the magistrate cannot deal with it, because

there was no proper service. The police may for instance serve a copy of a

warrant of arrest which is not a warrant of arrest. Mr Gous said that it is

not wise to prepare a warrant of arrest in duplicate.

4. Transport

People did not attend maintenance hearings, saying that they have no

transport, which halts the process.

5. Summonses difficult to serve

Mr Venter also added that especially in rural areas the serving of summonses

by sheriffs was a problem, because of vague addresses, for instance.

6. Insufficiencies in Acts

a) Vague language in Act, insufficient protection

Mr D D Ngobeni added that when the respondents appear on the return date in

order to oppose the issuing of a protection order in terms of section 6(2)

and the complainant does not appear, it poses a problem.

The "honeymoon phase" is a problem. By this is meant that parties often

reconcile while the judicial process is under way, but not completed. The

woman concerned then does not appear or wants to withdraw the case, because

she believes the promises of her partner that it will not happen again, or

she is so dependent on him financially that she reconsiders making the


Mr G A J F Gous (Magistrate) submitted that subsection 7(7) of the Domestic

Violence Act was too wide "where it refers to other legal remedies". He also

said that with regard to "personal" property, section 7(2)(b) was too vague.

It makes provision that police must help to collect personal property, but

it was difficult to understand what was meant by "personal property". He

stressed that disputes often arose with regard to property. Often the two

parties were not divorced yet, but the magistrates court was expected to

play the role of divorce court. He requested that the section pertaining to

personal property be redrafted and formulated more clearly.

Section 7(5)(b) refers to health. The court has to consider matters

pertaining to health. What is meant by the word "health"?

b) Addresses

He also said that the question of the address of the applicant was a

practical problem. The address of the applicant is not supposed to be

reflected on an interim order, but that is contradictory, because a copy of

the application (section 4(1)) containing the complainant's address has to

be attached. He asked what was to be done in this case. Should the address

be deleted? How do you not show the address to the respondent?

7. Financial implications for magistrate's office

If the applicant does not appear - what is supposed to happen? It has

financial implications for the magistrate's office, because the Sheriff of

the Court has to be paid.

8. Shelters

Mr R M Chirwa, magistrate at Eerstehoek, said that Parliament must make

financial provision for shelters if it legislated that shelters must be

provided for battered women.

There are no places of shelter in the Nelspruit (Mpumalanga?) area.

B Maintenance Act

Maintenance investigators

Mr D D Ngobeni asked why the section on maintenance investigators was

suspended in the new legislation. He said that the Maintenance Act was

properly framed, but problematic to implement.


Rape victims:

Mr Froneman suggested the implementation of a buddy system within

communities. When a rape occurs NGOs and contacts in their network must be

alerted to accompany the victim to hospital and court etc.


At Balfour no maintenance inquiry has come to court for three years, because

there is a very successful mediator in Balfour.

Family courts:

Mr Froneman suggested that we need a mediation process to deal with

maintenance matters on the spot. Maintenance defaulting was not a criminal

offence per se, but a social problem which has to be dealt with in society

by society.

Mr Froneman requested more staff to deal with processing of high volumes of



A Domestic Violence Act and National Instruction

1. Opening a criminal case vs applying for an interdict immediately

The police are reluctant to open a criminal case if the complainant is not

willing to make a statement.

Supt Ronel Vogel, who works in the Lowveld area, was responsible for the

training of officers with regard to domestic violence. Supt Vogel reported

that during training it was stressed to police officers that a complainant

did not have to open a case, but can opt for an interdict immediately.

Magistrates, however, got no specific instruction with regard to domestic


2. Domestic Violence Act not clear enough

The Act states that the SAPS must assist the victim, but no details are

provided. Supt Vogel requests for a more specific type of instruction

setting out what the SAPS must do.

3. Police get no after-hour assistance with regard to applications.

4. Addresses

No addresses appear on the warrant document, but only a name and ID number.

An address may not be made known, but how can it be kept secret if a man

pays for a woman's living at an address? Women have no trust in the system.

5. There is a three to four-day delay in setting aside a previous interdict.

6. Registers: Every complaint must be registered.

She reported that she was conducting a new survey to see what the problems

are now and that she was trying to get a new list from police.

[Dir Mashana reported that a complainant is often referred to the

magistrate, and that police were inclined to take the shorter route. ]

7. Shortage of manpower and vehicles

He stressed the importance of effective communication and reiterated that a

shortage of manpower was a big problem. The police are also experiencing

problems with regard to executing the warrants of arrest because of a

shortage of manpower and vehicles.

Supt Vogel added that in terms of regulations police officers may not

transport victims.

8. Child Protection Unit

Detective Sergeant W Mahlangu reported that people did not know where to go

to report child abuse. He added that no reporting did not mean that there

was no cases of child abuse in the area. He also reported a liaison problem

between the courts and the Unit.

Mrs Themba replied that in the time she worked in the Office on the Status

of Women, there was a problem with regard to forms getting lost in the

offices of the Child Protection Unit. Administrative management and

co-ordination of the office is not under control.

B. Maintenance Act

1. Manpower

2. transport

3. rural area

4. availability of birth certificates

5. reluctant fathers

6. Department of Home Affairs

Police say they do not have enough staff or vehicles to do their work in

this regard. The Sheriff encounters problems with serving warrants in rural

areas, because of unclear addresses. The complainants therefore have to come

to Nelspruit to process the maintenance forms. Transport is a problem and it

is hard for these people to look for a street address in a town like

Nelspruit (they come from rural areas and can often not read) The

maintenance forms are too long. With regard to maintenance: Birth

certificates are needed, but fathers do not want to make available their ID

numbers. The Department of Home Affairs simply turn women away and tell them

to get the husbands or boyfriends and bring them to the offices.


A. Domestic Violence Act and National Instruction

1. Vagueness in Act re removal of furniture

Ms Vanessa Joubert, a prosecutor at the Nelspruit Magistrate's Court, asked

for clarification on the matter of procedure with regard to the removal of

furniture. Must the SA Police Services assist? Must there be a court order?

[Supt Vogel reported that the South African Police Services had received a

warning from their National Office that police may not get involved in the

removal of furniture if there was no court order.]

B. Maintenance Act

Maintenance Officers

Mrs F E van Rooyen (Barberton) reported that Maintenance Officers are not

properly trained and not capable of giving proper advice.

Drunken police officers:

Ms V Joubert (Prosecutor - Nelspruit) reported that she did not receive

replies when reports of drunken police officers were sent to the SAPS. She

added that she had a stack of documents to prove her statement.


1. Long forms,

2. shortage of staff in magistrate's offices

3. South African Police Services

4. Funds, staff

Ms R Maile reported that the police often will not help a complainant but

send her back to her husband or ask her to report to her in-laws. They give

an assaulted woman a J-88 form to complete and send her to the clinic

unaccompanied, saying they have no transport available. Queues are long,

women have to wait a long time to be attended to and there is only one clerk

to assist them.

Ms N D Nkosi reported police officers being drunk on duty, and made mention

of problems at the Tonga police station.

NGOs requested more funds for magistrates offices and more staff to bear the


Response from South African Police Services

Supt John Nkuna (SAPS Lowveld) added that formal, detailed complaints about

police conduct and any information pertaining thereto must be brought to the

SAPS, so that these matters can be investigated.

He asked for early reporting and addressing of these complaints.

Training Programmes:

Mr D D Ngobeni reported that a number of courses were conducted by Justice

College. These courses were attended by maintenance officers, clerks of the

court and prosecutors.

Mr R M Chirwa (Eerstehoek) said that five police stations and clerks and

magistrates came together for training on domestic violence.

Outreach actions entailed: radio and television broadcasts and

workshops with Social Services (?)

At present the SAPS, magistrates and prosecutors work as separate entities.

Conclusion: Co-operation and communication can be improved (How?)

No problems with SAPS at Eerstehoek reported.

Mrs Themba: Police forums: How often are reports from community police

forums sent in?

Ms I Mutsila: Victim empowerment programmes: How are they made part of the

day-to-day police work?

Victim support

Supt Vogel said that there were montly meetings at police stations (victim

empowerment) The Department of Justice was not on board yet. At present the

committee was focusing on specific projects. NGOs get contacts in the

community re where women can get assistance (NGOs, churches) and these lists

are displayed at police stations etc.

Mrs Themba summed up that there seemed to be a uniform problem in all

provinces. She said that the committee would meet with the Portfolio

Committees on Justice and Safety and Security and that they would recommend

amendment of the Domestic Violence Act and the Maintenance Act where



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