Judicial Matters Amendment Bill & Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill: adoption; Report on Traditional Courts Bill, Legal Aid Board Guide, Judicial Officer salaries & other issues

This premium content has been made freely available

Justice and Correctional Services

20 October 2008
Chairperson: Mr Y Carrim (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Committee discussed outstanding issues that related to the Judicial Matters Amendment Bill and the  Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill. In respect of each of these, the Committee adopted the Motion of Desirability and adopted the Bill. The Committee then received a report-back on the Traditional Courts Bill, noting that this Bill would be re-tabled and that a Committee consisting of five traditional leaders, five civil society organisations, including COSATU, and five Members would be formed to iron out the problems that had been identified during the public hearings. It was noted that the Legal Aid Board Guide would be tabled before the Committee on 22 October for approval. It was noted that the President would shortly sign off the salary raises of Magistrates and Judges. The Mandating Procedures of Provinces Bill was to be sent to a Mediation Committee consisting of representatives from both Houses. It was reported that seventeen applications had been received for the vacant posts of Commissioner of the South African Human Rights Commission, and that it was hoped to finalise the interview process by 5 November. A meeting had been held with the Law Society over the problems in the Pietermaritzburg Office of the Master of the High Court, and the issue of vacant posts was to be discussed with the Department of Justice. The Chairperson noted that he had informally met with a delegation from Fathers for Justice, who raised pertinent issues and concerns around court rulings on custody, and he recommended that they should be given the opportunity to address the Committee. 

 

Meeting report

Judicial Matters Amendment Bill
Adv C Johnson (ANC) noted that in Clause 2 the word “fines” had been substituted with “penalties”. She stated that the State Law Adviser and the Department of Justice (DoJ) had different views on this clause and that both entities had agreed to consult with the National Prosecuting Authority on the matter.

Mr J Jeffery (ANC) noted, in relation to the Promotion of Administrative Justice (PAJA) Rules, that all concerned parties had been in agreement that the Rules had to be redone, but that this must be done via the Rules Board. It was thus decided to grant an extension until February.

Adv L Joubert (DA) asked why it took so long for the Rules to be approved.

Adv Johnson noted that it had been regrettable, as the impasse had been between the Rules Board and the Ministry of Justice.

Mr Jeffery said that the Rules had initially been tabled but withdrawn because of concerns raised by the Ministry of Justice. At some stage the Minister of Justice had then substituted the Rules Board's rules with her own version, which was an incorrect unilateral decision. The new Minister had indicated that he wanted the matter resolved, and would thus meet with Rules Board within two weeks.

The Report and the Motion of Desirability were read out and adopted by the Committee.

Members adopted the Bill.

Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill
Mr Jeffery stated that minor changes had been made to this Bill
 
The Motion of Desirability was read out and accepted by the Committee.

The Bill was adopted.

Traditional Courts Bill
The Chairperson noted that the Traditional Courts Bill would be re-tabled and that it had been agreed that a committee consisting of five traditional leaders, five civil society organisations, including COSATU, and five Members would be formed to iron out the problems that had been identified during the public hearings.

Legal Aid Board Guide
The Chairperson asked when the Legal Aid Board would table the new Legal Aid Board Guide.

Mr Jeffery replied that the Guide would be tabled before both the Portfolio Committee on Justice and the Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Affairs on 22 October, for ratification.

Magistrates’ and Judges’ Salaries
Mr Jeffery noted that the President was due to sign off on the salary raises of Magistrates and Judges, and that if Members were interested in the Report by Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, then they were welcome to request it.

Mandating Procedures of Provinces Bill
Mr Carrim noted that no agreement between the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces had been reached on the Mandating Procedures of Provinces Bill, and that a Mediation Committee that consisted of representatives of both Houses would be established. Three Members of this Committee had been mandated to sit on this Committee.

South African Human Rights Commission: Appointment of Commissioners
Adv Johnson said that seventeen applications had been received for the vacant posts of Commissioner and that interviews would commence within one week. It was hoped that the process would be finalized by 5 November.

Master of the High Court: Pietermaritzburg Office
Adv Johnson said that she had met with the Law Society, and had raised the issue of the administration of deceased estates. A meeting with Mr Basson had been scheduled for 24 October in Johannesburg, where outstanding matters would be discussed.

Mr Jeffery added that the Director-General of the Department of Justice would address the issue of vacant posts at the Masters’ Office, and that the general view had been that the intention was never to freeze the posts in question.

Fathers for Justice
The Chairperson said that he had informally met with a delegation from the Fathers for Justice Organisation, at the behest of the IFP. He noted that this organisation had raised some pertinent issues and concerns in connection with the lack of objectivity by courts when ruling on custody cases. He believed that an opportunity should be afforded to them to address the Committee, and felt that it was unacceptable that the previous Committee Chairpersons had refused similar requests by this and other organisations to address the Committee.

The meeting was adjourned.

Share this page: