A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
IMPROVEMENT OF THE QUALITY OF LIFE AND STATUS OF WOMEN JOINT MONITORING COMMITTEE
17 May 2000
BEIJING PLUS FIVE CONFERENCE
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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"?
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Mr Froneman requested more staff to deal with processing of high volumes of
SA POLICE SERVICES
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.
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
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
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
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.
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?
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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