Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill: interim report

Ad Hoc Committee on Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill

17 February 2009
Chairperson: Ms M Sotyu (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee discussed what should go into their interim committee report to Parliament as they had not managed to finalise the Bill as planned prior to the National Assembly rising the following day. 

The reasons for not passing the legislation were that the South African Police Service implementation plan had been submitted too late to be reviewed and because there were still outstanding issues to resolve regarding the legislation.
 
Several members conveyed their disappointment that the legislation was not to be passed, stating that the Committee had been given enough time, and that the short period to pass the legislation was why an ad hoc Committee had been specially constituted. It was suggested that the incomplete implementation plan was not cast in stone and could change anyway. It was pointed out that the public were supportive of the legislation being passed because it would have been a tangible avenue in the fight against crime.

 

Meeting report

The Chairperson announced that the meeting was intended to discuss the processes the Committee planned to follow before it could finalise this Bill. These would be communicated in an interim committee report to Parliament. She said that the South African Police Service (SAPS) had indicated they needed more time to furnish their implementation plan to the Committee and that the matter had been referred to the National Commissioner. The National Commissioner was supposed to contact the Chairperson and submit the plan, but had not done so. Finally a SAPS report was handed to the Committee only at the beginning of this meeting, which had not been accepted because there was no time for the Committee to review it prior to the start of the meeting. 

Adv L Joubert (DA) conveyed his disappointment that the scope of the meeting was so limited and that no document would be tabled. He believed the Committee had been given enough time since its establishment to finalise the Bill.
 
Ms S Seaton (IFP) agreed with the Chairperson that there was insufficient time to review the SAPS report and noted that there were still other outstanding issues. 
 
Ms Van Wyk (ANC) said that the reality was that the current Parliament was essentially disbanding the next day. She did not believe that the legislation could be passed before then, as there were too many outstanding issues. Implementation issues and capacity building had been pointed out. She asserted that it could not work where the Committee received the report only on the day of the meeting, and because there were still so many issues it would be irresponsible to try to push the legislation through.
 
Ms Sotyu reiterated it was not possible to responsibly pass the legislation in twenty-four hours. She emphasized that they had just received the document and cannot go through it in time. 
 
Adv Z Madasa (ANC) voiced his disappointment, acknowledging that the Committee had been given a short period of time to work on the Bill, but asserted that was why the ad hoc Committee had been created. He thought that the Department that was initiating the legislation should have been fully co-operative. However, only receiving the report just before the meeting, did not indicate co-operation. He stressed that the public were supportive of the legislation being passed and would have been encouraged if it passed, because it would have given a tangible avenue in the fight against crime.
 
Ms Sotyu said they would give Parliament an interim report today and repeated her reasons given above.
 
Ms F Chohan-Kota (ANC) agreed with Adv Madasa and stated that there had been fruitful discussions in the previous meeting and she believed the legislation could be passed because it was so advanced. However, it seemed the Committee wanted an implementation plan first and she would go along with what the Committee decided. She believed the police had been given until 19 February to submit a report, and it was only 18 February. There could be a parliamentary sitting in March so the Committee might still have time to pass the legislation, but this was a small window period. She was not opposing the idea that if the Committee required an implementation plan that it then must be produced, but she believed implementation plans could be changed. What was important was to pass the legislation so that it could become a budget priority.  

Ms Van Wyk pointed out that the drafting of the amendments discussed in the previous meetings had not been seen and that Treasury had already indicated the budget for this matter. The issue was that outstanding matters still needed to be discussed. 
 
Ms Sotyu said that the police had submitted the report only at the start of the meeting and that there were still issues to be discussed. She declared that an interim report would be tendered to Parliament to make a decision on the steps to be taken.
 
Meeting adjourned

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