Gender-Based Violence Bills: briefing by role-playing Departments on state of readiness
06 November 2020
- Department of Justice & NPA presentation
- Department of Health comments on the Gender-based Bills
- Department of Health presentation
- Department of Basic Education presentation
- Department of Social Development presentation
- Department of Higher Education and Training presentation
- SAPS presentation
- DWYPD presentation
- B20-2020 - Domestic Violence Amendment Bill
- B17-2020 - Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill
- B16-2020 - Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act Amendment Bill
The purpose of the meeting was to get a briefing from the departmental role-players on the state of readiness to implement the gender-based violence (GBV) Bills, namely the Criminal Law and Related Matters Amendment Bill, the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill and the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill. The departments who presented were: The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development; the Department of Social Development; the Department of Basic Education; the Department of Higher Education and Training; the Department of Women, Children, and Persons with Disabilities; the Department of Health; and the South African Police Services.
With the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ&CD), Members wanted to know about the budget that had been set aside to make sure that things were being implemented, and also about the costing of the budget. Members said that what was missing from the presentation was an assessment and a report on which of the intended legislative amendments will need regulations to effect and implement said amendments. Members asked if training in the use of the new technologies such as the Integrated Case Management System was planned. The Department talked about official languages being used in court proceedings, but South African Sign Language (SASL) was not mentioned anywhere. Members asked if more courts would be covered in the Wi-Fi pilot programme besides the eight out of 416 courts.
With the Department of Social Development (DSD), Members were particularly concerned about shortages of social workers, how the Department would budget for social workers’ salaries, and what the normal workload of social workers is versus the current workload. Members expressed gratitude towards the Director-General’s engagement with interfaith leaders (the reason why the Director-General was absent from the meeting); it was crucial for the Portfolio Committee to understand the role that religious leaders of all faiths can play in engendering moral values. The Portfolio Committee was trying to deal with GBV from a criminal justice perspective, which is key, but it also considered the faith-based perspective and a social perspective as being absolutely critical to the role that the Department and interfaith leaders can play. Additionally, there was a reference to the Victim Support Services Bill in a previous submission. There are a lot of positive elements to Victim Support Services Bill, but one of the criticisms coming from the NGO sector, such as Rape Crisis, is that it creates a lot of additional red tape to the NGO and non-profit sector, and seeks to criminalise anyone who does not adhere to those regulations. There could be Members who are concerned about the implications of that Bill given some of the criticism that is coming from the NGO sector.
Members asked about the protocols and directives the Department referred to, which must still be developed. It is indicated in the presentation that those are only to be developed once the bills become law. However, the PC asked for an indication as to how long it will take for them to be developed, and then ultimately implemented.
With the Department of Basic Education (DBE), Members asked what the Department has done in order to ensure that there is a proper interface in respect of the NRSO in relation to vetting. Members agreed that education is essential in addressing the scourge of GBV, sexual violence and domestic violence. In that regard, the PC commended the Department on the content of its curriculum. However, a Member said that what is missing from the presentation is that going forward, apart from the admissions policy, as part of the standard operating procedures, there must also be a monitoring policy, specifically if one thinks of the mandatory reporting that could become a part of the law in respect of domestic violence. If one takes into account the presentations that the PC has received, it might have a chilling effect on reporting, specifically those that have knowledge in the immediate circle of victims. One would think that the school environment, specifically of children who are either victims or secondary victims, could be ideally placed for reporting obligations. Members wanted to hear from the Department how it is thinking about those mandatory obligations, specifically in respect of the duties and the burdens it will place on educators. There was also a question on reporting for special needs children who live at schools. Members wanted to know how welcoming schools are of the programmes that present advocacy materials. There was a question about the issue of sexual abuse at boarding schools in general.
The PC appreciated all of the systems that the DBE is trying to set up, because there is the challenge of the budget. When looking at multidisciplinary teams. Members asked about how the Department does not have enough social workers, and it does not have psychologists; they asked if boarding schools would have more onsite support through the hiring of more social workers. Members also asked if the SAPS was assigned to a particular school, or if it goes to schools to check up on things.
With the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), Members were concerned about how the DHET was addressing the multiple forms of abuse (e.g. physical, emotional, psychological), which could happen both within and outside of an institution. There was a question about how many social workers the Department needs to have, and how many psychologists it needs to have. Members also suggested that the DHET have a look at the DBE presentation, and its models for educating learners about GBV and gender issues. Members wanted to know how the Department would be working with the police. There was a question on the historical challenges on campuses with GBV, such as the “culture of silence” on South African campuses regarding sexual violence, and initation practices that bordered on sexual violence. A Member also raised the importance of culturally-relevant interventions at high schools.
With the Department of Women, Youth, and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD), a Member asked about the National Council on GBV, and if the PC could get timeframes on its operation. There was also a question about the budget. At some stage, the Department did not have enough of a budget; Members wanted to know what the Department was doing to make sure that the costing for the Department was happening. A Member wanted to know whether the Department is happy or unhappy with what is happening on the ground, and if the Department was satisfied with the progress, and with the proposed amendments that are being made on the GBV bills; the Member asked if the Department could explain its view. A Member noted that the DWYPD is the champion of these three bills when it comes to making sure that these bills are implemented, since it was going to monitor that. The Member also wanted to know if the Department was happy with the plans presented by the other departments, or what it thought could be done better.
With the Department of Health (DoH), Members asked if the forensic laboratories fall under the DoH. If the laboratories do fall under the DoH, then the Member wanted to know about the challenges by the DoH with regard to the forensic laboratories. The Member had read that there was a backlog in the testing of DNA, etc. from the forensic laboratories before cases can come in front of court. Another Member asked about the DoH’s relationship with the police in terms of DNA testing, especially regarding rape victims. One will find that the police do not have enough rape kits. There was also the issue of the DoH’s communication going to the District Surgeon. The PC needed to know, in terms of implementation and the challenges that are there now, what the DoH would do going forward. There was also a question of how the DoH and SAPS work together, specifically, how they work, and who is responsible for which tasks. A Member suggested that the PC takes a real-life tour of a forensic laboratory. The Chairperson said that the PC received a complaint, which was circulated to Members. The PC would want it to be attended to by the DoH and NPA. The Committee Secretariat would be able to give both parties the letter with the details. It is case no. 381/02/2019, and is a femicide and GBV murder case. The NPA and the DoH acknowledged the complaint; the NPA would await the feedback from the Committee, while the DoH would communicate with the Eastern Cape Health Department while it was waiting to receive the letter.
With the South African Police Service (SAPS), a Member asked about the development, or the amendments to the National Instruction. If the Member understood the presentation correctly, ordinarily the SAPS will only embark on that process once the Bill has become a law and the regulations have been finalised. From the PC’s side, it must enquire whether any groundwork can be done, or any preparatory work, in respect of such a National Instruction, given the urgency behind the legislation. The PC heard from the DoJ&CD that regulations would be needed. The PC must enquire whether SAPS would consider starting with the development of the amendments to the National Instruction, pending the finalisation of regulations at least, once the Bill becomes a law. Regarding the training manual: A Member that there is a perception that the SAPS do not always totally embrace its duties under the legislation when it comes to domestic violence and GBV. When one talks about training manuals for new recruits, and ongoing training, it is an opportunity to address that. The Member later clarified that an earlier question did not say that SAPS must start working on the draft regulations; the question said that SAPS should consider working on the National Instruction. But what could be taken away is that the PC is not in the business to frustrate the processing of the bills, given the second pandemic, as GBV has been called. A Member also asked what its plans were for delivering an interim protection order, and asked if the SAPS was still using the domestic violence register that is in police stations. There was also a question on whether the SAPS has a system that will help with centralised protection orders so that it can see any other person who had a protection order before. Another Member raised the issue of how people are still not happy about the interaction between SAPS and victims. The Member had received a text message from the constituency office about a negative interaction between the police and victims. The Member then asked if SAPS would give training to the officials on how they should interact with people, or get in-depth training on how to handle GBV cases, and on how to communicate with the GBV survivors in a more appropriate way.
The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) did not have a presentation prepared. While a representative from the Department was present in the meeting, the Portfolio Committee declined to ask the representative questions. The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee considered the Department’s actions a “serious sign of disrespect”.
Members were mostly satisfied with the responses given by the various departments. The questions that could not be answered in the meeting would be answered in writing.
Chairperson’s Opening Remarks
The Chairperson said that the purpose of the meeting was to be briefed by departmental role-players on state-readiness to implement the gender-based violence (GBV) Bills. Before Cabinet approves a Bill, departments have to satisfy Cabinet that they have done due diligence towards vulnerable groups. In public hearings, concerns were raised about whether the state would be in a position to implement the Bills. The Portfolio Committee (PC) would not be happy with the text alone, but is interested in having oversight of the implementation of the GBV Bills. Without oversight, the laws would be irrelevant.
This Portfolio Committee did not take kindly to presentations and submissions sent late at night, the day before and found it quite disconcerting. The PC was extremely displeased that its own Department submitted their presentation late. The PC will not accept presentations submitted overnight; it wants them to be submitted the day before otherwise it cannot go through them properly. GBV is not a public relations exercise; it is a pandemic that needs decisive interventions. It does not need silo implementation; it needs all departments to work together to try and defeat the pandemic. Silo implementation—not working in an integrated way—will not help South Africa to win this battle. More than looking at the presentations of the departments concerned, the PC would be interested in knowing how coordinated the departments are, and how well they are working together. If the departments continue to work as single departments, it would be an exercise in futility.
The delegation from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ&CD) comprised of Ms Theresa Ross, Principal State Law Adviser: Legislation Development, and Adv Praise Kambula, Chief Director: Promotion of the Rights of Vulnerable Groups. Ms Ross apologised for the late submission of the presentation. The Department had to coordinate efforts and there were different units involved, from the financial, to ISM (which deals with development of systems). The Department had to make sure that everyone was “reading from the same hymn book.”
The Chairperson said that the DoJ&CD was known for making apologies for late submissions and the apology was not accepted as the Department was told about the need to make that particular presentation, the week before.
Ms J Mofokeng (ANC) asked where the Director-General (DG) or Deputy Director-General (DDG) was.
The Chairperson said that there was a problem with the PC’s Secretariat. As much as the PC took the decision that it wanted only the accounting officers to come, the letter that was sent by the Secretariat to the Department but Secretariat might have given the DGs an opportunity to think they are not required, and so can send anyone. It is a mistake from the PC’s own Secretariat. It was a decision that the PC took as a Committee; the Secretariat wrote something different.
Ms Ross said that the DG was not able to come to the meeting due to a prior engagement that was already in place when the Department received notice of the meeting.
Ms Mofokeng said that she understood that, but she had a problem with not having the accounting officers present. She did not have a problem with the Department having senior officials in the meeting, but GBV is very important, especially in the case of the departments that the PC had called to the meeting. These departments are the implementers and must know about the challenges, the budget and the implications that are coming with these three GBV Bills. She could foresee a problem with finalising the Bills, where the departments will say that they do not know what the PC was saying about the Bills. It is really unfair because the PC will be having another session to say, “Let us have the DGs”. This is very important, because the PC must also talk about the resources. The PC will not just allow departments to tell it about what is actually there, and then the PC would want to know about the financial implications, etc.; the PC is supposed to have DGs to account for that.
Adv G Breytenbach (DA) wanted to support Ms Mofokeng. She thought it was an extremely serious topic, and extremely serious subject matter. The Department should have made a much more concerted effort to ensure that it had everybody who is going to be held accountable be present. It is time that all of the departments take the PC seriously; it has taken serious decisions, and this is an important matter. The whole country is interested in this matter, so this shows a level of nonchalance that is somewhat concerning.
Mr S Swart (ACDP) wanted to endorse what the Chairperson and the other speakers had said. He also wanted to ask if one week’s notice was sufficient. One week probably was sufficient, but one must also consider the important fact that an Amendment Bill must be properly costed. He would be very interested to hear what the presentations say. In light of how the Department did not have the DG present or the Deputy Minister, the PC would probably have to have a follow-up meeting once the legislation was passed. He thought that the PC would have to give longer notice so that there could be no excuse. There is a consistent issue raised about lack of finance, and a lack of capacity to implement the amendments. Parliament has passed so much legislation, excellent Bills, but due to capacity constraints, these have not been implemented properly. The current situation will result in the PC needing to have another high-level meeting once these issues have been dealt with, given the massive public outrage about GBV, and the important role that Parliament needs to play in ensuring that capacity and finances are provided.
Ms N Maseko-Jele (ANC) added that the PC needed to warn the Department that this is not just an exercise. It is not just an exercise where the departments give the PC presentations and it is done, and the PC never follows it up. This is one exercise where the PC will follow up. Whatever the departments say, the PC will follow it up. The beginning of today showed the PC how things are taken when it comes to such issues, especially the issues that deal with GBV. These issues are not taken seriously. The fact that today, the very people who are supposed to take responsibility gave excuses; more so, that it is the PC’s Department, did not sit well with her. She was not sure if the PC would just listen to what the Department is saying as it would mean that there would be no commitment. This is not acceptable. She thought that the PC needed to listen to the departments, but it must have a follow-up on the issues from today’s presentations, in making sure that those DGs come and account.
The Chairperson said that the Secretariat must properly record the PC’s decisions; it must not communicate what it thinks; the Secretariat must communicate the decision of the meeting. The PC said that it wanted accounting officers to be present, so, it will be important that the PC has a follow-up meeting, with the accounting officers. The Head of State deemed this issue (GBV) important to the extent that he must call a joint sitting of Parliament. This is because of the seriousness of this matter. The whole nation is looking to Parliament for leadership. The PC will not accept “game-playing” on this issue. It is one issue that, immediately after the Bill is passed, the PC will heighten its oversight over the Department. Each death of a person killed by his or her domestic partner, or a child being killed or being raped, is a crime against South Africa. The PC cannot accept that people get so comfortable in their bureaucratic way of doing things that the country is not going to be in a position to solve this particular problem. It will not be acceptable at all. He took Mr Swart’s point. The PC will communicate on time when it wants the accounting officers to come, but responses of prior commitments will not be acceptable. These will not be acceptable, because to the PC, the Department would be saying that it made a decision that that commitment is more important than the domestic violence (DV) that is engulfing South Africa.
Ms W Newhoudt-Druchen (ANC) wanted to add to what the Chairperson said. She wanted to remind the Department that in the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus, it endorsed that Parliament needs the state of readiness by the departments before the Bills are passed. She wanted to caution the departments that on this level as well, there is oversight.
Ms Y Yako (EFF) did not think it was fair that the departments did not take this issue very seriously. She did not think it was fair that the “highest of the highs” in the DoJ&CD Committee are not coming to the party, and are not taking this very seriously. It is a very serious issue. She would think that the women in DoJ&CD would make sure that this issue was taken up, and is the most important issue at the moment. The Department not being there, tells the PC how seriously the DoJ&CD takes this matter, and “how it sees us as women, because it is us who mainly suffer from gender-based violence”.
The Chairperson said that in the next meeting where the accounting officers would be present, he would ask that Parliament organises for the PC to get a copy of episode 40 of CheckPoint (a current affairs show on eNCA News) that was flighted on gender-based violence, so that Members could see the total miscarriage of justice that happened. The PC would then be able to have a discussion on that episode, and to check how the PC can hold the relevant departments accountable.
In that episode, Magistrate, Basimane Molwana, was the only one who stood firm on the side of the victims of GBV. The police officers, and the investigating officers, showed total disregard for cases of rape against the victims; and the prosecutor was reading a newspaper instead of listening to evidence. The PC needs to watch that episode, have a discussion, and demand accountability from the departments concerned, asking what actions are going to be taken against the people who showed total disregard and disrespect to the cause that South Africa is fighting as a society. The Committee Secretary must try and contact eTV, and get Nkepile Mabuse’s show, episode 40. These are the issues where if the PC does not follow up, it will make a mockery of the whole process that it is embarking on. The PC will schedule a meeting to watch that episode and see what happened, and how South Africa’s laws have been disregarded. That magistrate was the only one in that court who can be said to have behaved as an officer of the court. One cannot have a detective going to court without a docket in a rape case. These are the things that the PC would want to discuss as part of the ongoing process of ensuring that these Bills are passed. Everything that the PC sees on GBV during this period and beyond, it wants to nip it in the bud. It would want to call the accounting officers; they must be the ones who tell the PC about the remedial actions it will take against its people who were responsible for the miscarriage of justice, which was an insult to the cause of justice.
Ms Mofokeng requested that the report from the Department be made available to the PC within seven days, because the PC experienced that two weeks ago, it never even cared to come back to tell the PC. It is going to be doing its part, but asked what the Department did about it when that episode was flighted on eTV, as the Department has a responsibility to inform the PC, because these are some of the cases that are giving the PC a headache. She agreed with the Chairperson that there should be timeframes.
The Chairperson said the PC should agree on seven days, for both the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the South African Police Services (SAPS ) to provide reports on the matter . That Magistrate is to be congratulated. He was extremely frustrated; the whole system was against him, and he was fighting alone and being undermined by the system. How does one have a prosecutor going to court and reading a newspaper during a bail hearing process? Within seven days, the PC would want the National Director of Public Prosecutions and the National Commissioner of Police to indicate to the PC what remedial actions will be taken.
[Ms Newhoudt-Druchen wrote in the chat: To Justice: how will the state of readiness address what Chairperson just said?]
Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ&CD ): State of Readiness for Gender-Based Violence Bills
Adv Kambula said the Department has heard the concerns that were raised by the PC, and it would take those concerns to its principals. She requested that the NPA be allocated a separate time, so that it was able to do its presentation. The delegation included Adv JB Skosana, DDG: Court Services, Ms Theresa Ross, Principal State Law Adviser: Legislation Development, Mr Michael Yates, Integrated Justice System; Dr Praveena Sukhraj-Ely, Director: Promotion of the Rights of Vulnerable Groups; and Ms Charisse Fryer, Director: Costing.
Domestic Violence Amendment Bill, 2020
Clauses 1, 3 Amending Sections 1, 2
Full details may be found in the presentation. The amendments were presented in tables with the following headings: Amendment; Current Status/Actions Required; Resources; Timelines. The rest of the headings were as follows.
Clauses 3 and 6 Amending Sections 2, 4
Clause 6 Amending Section 4: Online Application for Protection Order
Statistics related to technology access were presented.
Financial Year 2019/2020
• New Applications: 240 282
• No. of District Courts (dealing with DV matters): 416
• Average Interim PO (protection orders) Issued Per Working Day: 6 749
• Finalised: 184 473
• Applications Dismissed/ Withdrawn: 8 920
• New Interim Order Applications: 129 340
Clause 6,7: Online Applications and Service
The Department has an Integrated Case Management System (ICMS). It will need to be upgraded to ensure that it allows for online applications. The process of upgrading the system has already started.
Clauses 6, 7: Online Applications (Amending Sections 4, 5)
Clause 6 Amending S4: Introducing Mobile After-Hour Applications for Protection Order
SMS Notification System Introduced in Domestic Violence Applications for Protection Orders
Clause 6: Central Electronic Repository
Clause 6 Amending S4: Central Electronic Repository Seeks To:
• Curb dual applications
• Mange counter-applications
• Assist in tracking previous violations of protection orders and other crimes. This data will also be relevant during bail applications.
• Improve data sharing and data integrity.
The Integrated Justice System (IJS) Transversal Hub as a Foundation
The IJS Integration Model Providing a Template For Interdepartmental Exchange
Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act Amendment Bill
Clauses 1, 5 to 7
The proposed amendments seek to:
• Expand the scope of the National Register for Sex Offenders (NRSO) to include the particulars of all sex offenders and not only sex offenders against children and persons who are mentally disabled;
• Expand the ambit to include other vulnerable persons, namely, female persons between the ages of 18 and 25, persons with physical, intellectual or mental disabilities and persons 60 years of age or older who, for example, receive community-based care and support services; and
• Increase the periods for which a sex offenders’ particulars must remain on the NRSO before they can be removed from the Register.
Scope of Protected Persons Extended
• Clause 5 aims to amend certain definitions in order to extend the ambit of Chapter 6 beyond the persons currently protected, namely, children and persons who are mentally disabled.
Two new definitions are included to extend the ambit of Chapter 6:
• “Person who is vulnerable”, among others, includes reference to children, persons with disabilities, persons who are being cared for or being sheltered in facilities that provide services to victims of crime and female persons under the age of 25.
• “Sexual offence” is defined to ensure that Chapter 6 is not limited to sexual offences that have been committed against children or persons who are mentally disabled, but includes all sexual offences that have been committed.
Extension of the NRSO Scope: Required Resources
Current Functionalities of the NRSO
• Registers new convictions
• Registers historic convictions
• Issues clearance certificates
• Removes particulars of qualifying registered sex offenders
Progressive Upgrades of the Electronic NRSO
• Latest, finalised in 2019
Training and Skills Development
• Draft amended modules already developed by Justice College
• Amended Modules have been piloted
• Targets clerks of court, intermediaries and prosecutors
• Budget required to deliver training
Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill
Clauses 1 and 18 Introducing Sections 51a and 37a of the Act
• Extending intermediary services to civil proceedings and older persons
• Intermediaries 2019/2020: 146
• Ad hoc intermediaries 2019/2020: 36
• The Department introduced an electronic Intermediary Diary System to facilitate the shared use of intermediaries throughout the country.
• Additional intermediaries will be required. A resource audit is to be conducted.
• More budget required
• Audio-visual link: Certain courts already installed with audio-visual link/ system, .e.g 106 Sexual Offences Courts already installed with dual-view CCTV system-referred to as Sexual Offences System (SOS)
• Audio-visual remand system already in operation in certain courts, and is progressively installed
• Court audio visual system: Tender process in progress to introduce court audio-visual system to facilitate virtual court proceedings
The Chairperson noted that Members from other Committees were also present, and Members from the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus were also present. Members from other Committees had the right to speak. The PC would not be voting, which is the only time that Members from other Committees would be excluded.
Ms Maseko-Jele said that she did not hear anything about the issue of the budget and asked how much would be allocated. She heard the explanation on the measures? that were in place, but that could be only rhetoric, and the PC did not know anything about the budget that had been set aside to make sure that some of these things were being implemented. The PC was interested in implementation more than anything. On the issue of posts, she heard that the Department had made strides. She asked what kind of skills and people it would use. The people that the PC is interested in are the people with knowledge of GBV issues. The PC wanted to know if the Department had looked into this issue thoroughly, as well as onto the people that it is going to hire. On the issue of safety, she heard that Adv Kambula indicated that the Department has a plan on the issue of safety. What about safety at the courts? Sometimes, things happen at the courts. Perpetrators sometimes come and shoot people inside the court. Does that safety plan also cover facilities?
[Ms Shaheda Omar, Director: The Teddy Bear Clinic, wrote in the chat: Thank you Advocate Praise Kambula, for such a detailed and well-thought out plan]
[Ms Onica Makwakwa, Africa Regional Coordinator: Alliance for Affordable Internet, wrote in the chat: Thank you Advocate Kambula. On protection orders, applying online is a much-welcomed option, but making sure that the issued protection order is available electronically at all times to everyone who needs to verify especially police is critical. This will shift the burden away from survivors to have to keep and produce the paper at all times. It will also give access to police in all jurisdictions when they need to verify at any and all times. What progress has been made towards this kind of automation that could strengthen the effectiveness of issued protection orders?]
Mr W Horn (DA) said that what was missing from the presentation was an assessment and a report on which of the intended legislative amendments will need regulations to effect and implement said amendments. Mr Swart had mentioned in his preliminary remarks that implementation has traditionally been slow. In his opinion, one of the reasons is that the Department only once an Act has been promulgated by the President, embarks on a process of identifying which regulations must be made to properly allow for implementation. This must be added. There were a number of issues reported, for example, after-hours applications might need regulations, but the PC must get an updated report in that regard. With online applications, one of the line items in which the Department is underspending every year is the development of online systems. This has been going on “since forever”, and he could not see how it is now reported to the PC that the online system upgrade can only be affected if there is an additional budget made available. As it is, the Department is never spending its whole budget as allocated for online and ICT (information and communication technology) development purposes. His third question was on the after-hours applications, and the plan of the Department that this will be done only via a mobile app. Those who work with smartphones know that one only has the apps one knows one will need. He used the examples of banking apps and taxi service apps such as Uber. It is difficult to see how people, specifically first-time victims of DV, will foresee that they will be needing the app. That brought him back to comments made initially when the Bills were introduced. Implementation will only be more effective if there is an integrated approach between all departmental stakeholders. For him, the after-hours online applications can only assist victims if, for example, the Department of Health (DoH), the SAPS, Social Services, etc. are included in making these available on their systems as well. Specifically, the DoH and SAPS, where hospitals and police stations are open 24 hours a day. The answer simply cannot be that this is going to be a mobile app.
Mr Swart thought that the biggest challenge is the issue relating to additional budget where there are a number of issues that the Department referred to. The PC will have to look very carefully at these, particularly the issue relating to the costing of the Bill. He thought that it would be important for the Department to submit an additional report giving details of what that costing is going to be. The second issue relates to the online and ICT systems. With some of the slides, at the bottom left-hand side, there is a date of 22 February 2011. Is that when the ideas of these integrated plans were first set in place? He was quite interested in that date, because it is nine years later. The Department indicated that it was building on existing plans. If the Department already has a degree of an integrated justice system, he asked why it is not working at the moment. He was trying to focus on practical implementation as opposed to improving the legislation. Practical implementation is his biggest concern, given that when the PC had the Department making presentations, across the board, everyone on the PC was most concerned about the state of the DoJ&CD. He referred to the issue of the regulations. It had already been covered by Mr Horn, but is an issue the PC needs to know about, because there is great pressure on the PC. Once the legislation is finalised, it must be implemented effectively and quickly, and that is why the PC was having today’s hearings. He welcomed the presence of NGOs on the platform, adding, with the Chairperson’s permission, it might be useful if NGOs submit their comments on what those in the meeting were hearing, in writing. It could be helpful to get a perspective from the Department,where the NGOs could then say, “But that is not what is happening on the ground”. It could be helpful for the PC to receive submissions, as they may help the PC understand the complexities and the practical challenges on the ground, in implementing the required legislation, given the financial constraints facing the nation and every department in the meeting.
Ms Mofokeng said that Mr Swart is correct to raise the issue of the practical implementation. She wanted to raise a point about the integrated justice system, especially since slide 14 said that that system is already in operation. She requested that Members of the PC go for oversight visit on this, because there are tendencies in the departments to “have Bills that do not bite”. The PC needs to check the information that it is given on paper, because most of the time, things will be said in meetings, but are not like that in real life. One welcomes the online applications, but it should be noted that “only 40% of people have smartphones”. This means that the manual service will remain, and will have to be effective, with the challenge there being that some people are scared to go to the offices for a number of reasons. For example, a lack of privacy. She asked if the Department will improve on certain sections both for privacy and so that people are safe. Women have been killed in police stations even when they go to open cases with the police. On the number of clerks that the Department has, there are 4 801 at the moment; yet it only needs ten. The PC did not see the clerks’ effect in the midst of the challenge of GBV. She asked what will be changed as she did not get the sense that the Department had training planned. If the Department talks about technology, or the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), then it means that it must also talk about training and the budget thereof. On the issue of the centralised orders: she thought that all of the submissions were talking about that; the PC needs to know more about the budget. The PC also needs to go and conduct oversight at the Office of the Registrars, specifically, on the NRSO. The PC cannot just talk about the NRSO without knowing if it has enough capacity or resources. All the departments will tell the PC about various things, but the PC must take responsibility for not passing these Bills before going to check that implementation is going to be a reality.
Ms Newhoudt-Druchen wanted to emphasise that South African Sign Language (SASL) is not mentioned anywhere. The Department talks about official languages, but does not add SASL anywhere. The Department talks about interpreting in different African languages, but interpreting can be voice languages (languages that we speak with our voices), and sign language is not mentioned. It mentioned Braille, which is good and well; it mentioned audio, but SASL is not mentioned anywhere. People use it as an excuse that they are waiting for SASL to become an official language; yet, because it is not official this does not mean that people do not use it. She had become concerned about that. The Department said that there are 416 courts, but its pilot for Wi-Fi is only at eight courts. She was worried about the rest and asked if all courts would be covered? She knew that it was a pilot, but the Department was only piloting eight; and that seems to be very little. She assumed that when people are in an emergency, they had an emergency phone number which they can call even if they do not have any data and asked if the DoJ&CD had spoken to different service providers, for victims who want to make a protection order online, but do not have data or funds, and it is an emergency. She asked the Department to have discussions with the different service providers to assist it with that. On slide six, there was a number at the bottom, and slide 14 has a number that says 2.3 million cases were processed electronically from SAPS. That number is different to the number on slide six; which is way less. She asked for an explanation for the discrepancy in numbers there and if it meant cases that do not go through, or are the cases on slide six part of the number on slide 14 (which is 2.3 million).
[Ms Caroline Peters, Cape Flats Women's Movement and Callas Foundation, wrote in the chat: Good morning Chairperson, all protocol observed. Caroline Peters, Cape Flats Women's Movement and Callas Foundation. Presented to the Committee with Lisa Vetten and others. Does the Department of Justice have a breakdown of stats presented per province please? Chair, the stats shows the 91% of the population has access to electricity, data is a huge challenge in communities, the assumption during lockdown that women will be able to access the GBV Hotline 0800428428, did not work for our communities, there are no central points within communities for women to access these services, GBV command line have huge challenges, the implementation of the online applications in not practical. Women have no bus fare to go to courts, how are we going to resource them to get to courts, will there be hubs in the communities. The presentation was great, thank you. However, there is no clear budget outline. We have the best legislation and no resources to implement. Thank you for the opportunity]
[Ms Newhoudt-Druchen wrote in the chat: Please use NGOs DPOs who work fully with deaf people when you talk about training for sign language interpreters. You cannot leave people with disabilities out when you give training to interpreters especially the deaf]
Responses by the Department of Justice & Constitutional Development
Adv Kambula started with the question on SASL. There was an intervention by the Department to train interpreters in SASL. The fact is that the cases where there are persons who need those services are not frequent in the courts; interpreters started to lose that skill. Each court has a database, and has engagement with organisations offering these services. The Department needs to clean up that process and ensure that it is a process that is up and running, so that the Department provides SASL interpreters. The Department started with nine courts in piloting Wi-Fi access. It is for the Department to see how it will work, and the pilot is moving to nine regional officers. The intention to ensure that every year, there is a minimum of 30 courts with Wi-Fi access. Budget will be required for Wi-Fi and data usage. With the pilot, the Department would be able to determine the amount of budget required as it moves progressively with the project.
The integrated case management system (ICMS) for domestic violence is up and running. It is one of the tools the Department is using to be able to check where the pressure points are regarding the interventions against DV. The draft has already been developed; it is a draft to ensure that the Department introduces victim-centric services at the service point. The Department is developing the victim-centric justice strategy, which is covering all victims of crime, particularly victims of GBV. This strategy does have a section that requires that there be designated waiting areas that are for victims of DV. This would be similar to what the Department has done with sexual offences; with sexual offences, there are private waiting areas that are furnished in a way that makes victims feel comfortable. The Department will use the vote budget, and also the current funds in ensuring that it resources those courts. That budget will be the budget for one financial year. The Department will need more as it moves on with the project.
On training: The laws have been amended, but the Department needs to have its people trained in technology. That process is already there for the NRSO, but with these new interventions being introduced, the Department will definitely have its people trained on the technology that it is introducing. With the NRSO, the Department needs capacity for it. It needs to capacitate the NRSO, and it is in the process of doing the work study for the NRSO, with the expanded services that the Bill is introducing. What was making it cumbersome was that it needed disaggregated data and focused exclusively on protecting children and persons with mental disabilities. The Department is opening the gateway to say that all convicted sex offenders will be registered. It will make it easy and ensure that there is better quality in data and the data interpreter is maintained.
There was a question on how much the Department needs. Regarding costing, as the Department was moving on with planning and implementation, it was looking into issues of how much cost will be required. It is a process that is underway. The Department will be able to come back to the PC and give the PC actual figures.
On the posts of the intermediaries: The Department needs more intermediaries. It has introduced the electronic intermediary data system, which facilitates the shared use of intermediaries. The Department has asked the Justice College to do training that builds sensitivity skills, the ability to communicate with children, and the ability to understand the needs of children. The College is in the process of amending its programme. Which people the Department will place at the service points is the Department’s concern, and it is a priority to ensure that it does not place people without the right attitude at the service points, and who have less understanding and interest in the dynamics related to victims of GBV and domestic violence. Yesterday, the Department had a programme where the Deputy Minister was talking to NSC pillar three team members. This issue came out very strongly; the Department needs to unpack and go back to its social context training, and see if it is fully capacitated to change people’s attitudes. Is it material where the Department can say that can build the right sensitivities that are needed at the service points.
Ms Kambula asked Adv JB Skosana to respond to the question on security at courts. The Department is in the process of looking into the regulations. The Department has already started to develop the application form, which is a prescribed form in its regulations. The Department is looking at customising it for online application, and also looking at the regulations that will need to be applied. What is good is that there is already a baseline. It is a matter of customising and ensuring that it responds to all, and the Department is waiting for Parliament to give it the go-ahead and say that “this is a Bill that we are adopting, so as to be able to effect all those changes that are needed”.
Mr Michael Yates, IJS, responded to questions. He clarified that the figures on slides six and 14 refer to two different matters. The figures on slide 14 were provided as evidence of the current integrations relating to the total number of criminal cases that have been integrated between the three national departments. The figures on slide six specifically related to domestic violence.
The app mentioned was an app to be used by internal officials. In learnings with the Department of Social Development in the child justice space, the motivation behind a mobile app for internal officials was seen as something to complement the traditional applications that the Department has, which officials normally access via a laptop or desktop. Within the child justice project, where officials are working after hours, it does not necessarily mean that they are sitting in front of their laptops or PCs, and are able to respond to incoming emails or notifications. The point of the mobile app was to provide officials with the means to be notified immediately, be it on a tablet or smartphone of their own, if there is a work item in their queue, or something needing to be processed, so that it can be responded to timeously. Using a mobile app allows the Department to roll the app out to more devices more cost-effectively, and so increase the reach of officials who would be able to support the processing of domestic violence applications after hours. That is distinct from an app that would be used by citizens.
Adv JB Skosana, DDG: Court Services, started with the issue of SASL: The Department has already, as part of its commitments, started the process to amend the Constitution to make SASL one of the official languages of South Africa. From the interim arrangement pending inclusion in the Constitution, the process of starting a database of language practitioners has begun. This database will include both sign language and oral language practitioners. The process will also involve contributions by the NGO sector, to make sure that those who get into the database have got the necessary skills and competencies to work with the DoJ&CD. He thought that the Department would rely heavily on NGOs’ assistance and guidance.
On the budget: The Department does not have the basic models in courts. These Bills create more urgency for the Department to review its models. It was also saying that it is part of the state’s ability to protect itself and its institution. The Department is looking into a fiscal model that is more expansive, and will provide adequate security for any person in a courtroom environment. Part of that is looking into the possibility of reducing the Department’s dependence on the private sector, and finding internal, insourced security where people can be trained to secure the courts. The Department is learning from Correctional Services. Correctional centres are protected by themselves and not by private security, whereas the Department spends a lot of money on private security, with little inspection of the services provided. Minister Lamola has driven the process, and has given the Department the task to make sure that it amends the model as soon as possible.
The IJS is not where it ideally ought to be in terms of integrating all of the processes across all the departments. Members have noted one of the weaknesses in this space, namely that it is not able to spend all the budget allocated to IJS. It was “painful” for Adv Skosana in March to approve over a R100 million budget to go to the state capture commission. IJS is not the only place where one would find money that is lying around and not being used. The Minister wanted to strengthen the inter-departmental budgeting processes, as well as integrated performance management processes. The Department has an earmarked budget for the IJS this year, which is R664 million. This budget is earmarked nationally, and for nine departments and law enforcement agencies. Part of this process must be to ensure that this budget is going to be used to fund initiatives that are part of these GBV Bills. With this integrated management process, there will then be a monitoring framework that will look into the spending patterns across the DoJ&CD and all the other eight departments. The Department will no longer have the unfortunate experience of having to lose this budget because it has not been spent, and having to assign the budget to areas for which it was never intended. The process of bringing in those integrated planning processes is going to insure (improvement in that regard). The Department has said to National Treasury that this is a part of the budget that must never be taken away, because GBV has always been a problem, “even during the hard lockdown”. The Department has allowed courts to continue to deal with corruption and GBV matters, and therefore the Department is hopeful that it is going to National Treasury not to reduce substantially the budget for the IJS. It is hopeful that it is going to build into the IJS budget a portion that will take care of the implementation of these Bills. The Department is not coming from a space with nothing on the table. This budget should allow it, from this current financial year, to create the right skills and training interventions, and to increase the Wi-Fi access of the courts, so that by the time it goes to the next financial year, it only has a commitment from the medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) that this whole process is included in the budget. The Department should be able to come with a specific budget allocation to the PC at the meeting which the Chairperson alluded to in saying further engagement is needed with high-level accounting officers on what will be committed. He thought that the Department should be able to use IJS as part of the opportunity to put out figures that will be used for this purpose.
Ms Theresa Ross, Principal State Law Adviser: Legislation Development, said that the Bills, especially the ones on domestic violence and the NRSO, will require regulations. There is a document that the Department has prepared on specific areas of the bills that need regulations. The Department will make that document available to the PC. It is a snapshot of exactly where the regulations are required.
The Chairperson said that the PC notes that in the last financial year, the Department underspent by R754 million. On security in courts: The Department’s response that it is looking at that, is grossly inadequate. This matter has been raised for many years, even by the Chief Justice. The PC cannot be told in 2020 that the Department is still looking into that issue. The PC cannot measure the Department when it says that it is looking at an issue. The PC deals with when, how, and where; it is what it is able to properly evaluate as the Committee. Broad strokes responses do not help the PC. It hopes that when the Department’s accounting officer comes, there will be specifics around issues. The PC does not think that resources are a problem for the Department. If the Department has underspent by R754 million, it does not have a problem with resources, it has the problem of management of resources. It is something that the PC will be keeping an eye on, but it thanks the Department for its presentation. The Chairperson thought that the Department had done well on its presentation, but it was a product of a broader lack of delivery by the Department, which “it can’t escape” and that does not give the PC comfort.
Mr Swart said that there were some very good comments from the NGOs in the chat box. He trusted that the PC’s researchers would make note of those comments, in light of what he said about NGOs, specifically on the challenges experienced on the ground.
The Chairperson said that the PC would be monitoring the comments made by the NGOs, and the latter would assist the PC when it deliberates; not only during the process of deliberation, but also as part of the PC’s ongoing oversight over the departments. The PC would not only be looking at the DoJ&CD, but also at the state as a whole, and the ability of the state to implement these bills properly. The PC appreciates the role that civil society is playing. That is why it was able to take note of the eTV special on GBV. The PC takes the NGOs’ work very seriously as part of strengthening South Africa’s democracy. Without that work, South Africa’s democracy would be poorer. The PC will be monitoring the NGOs’ comments. Those who were not able to write in the chat box can write to the PC, specifically on the implementation challenges, and suggestions on the implementation and oversight thereof.
Department of Social Development: State of Readiness to Implement the Related Gender-Based Violence Bills
Mr Linton Mchunu, Acting DG, Department of Social Development (DSD), introduced the presentation. The delegation included: Ms Siza Magangoe, Chief Director: GBV-related Matters; Ms Isabella Sekawana, Chief Director: ECD and Partial Care and Adv Luyanda Mtshotshisa: Legal Services. The DSD had engaged with the Minister on the presentation content before presenting. The Minister had expressed her apologies; she was in Mpumalanga to call on interfaith leaders to discuss GBV and femicide.
The Chairperson said the DSD Minister was not invited, but the PC appreciated her keen interest in the work of the Department; he asked Mr Mchunu to send the PC’s regards to the Minister.
Mr Swart wanted to commend the DSD for having the Acting DG on the platform at short notice. It serves as a greater indictment on the PC’s own Department that was not able to have the DG in the meeting.
Mr Mchunu said that the Department would take the presentation as read, because the presentation was submitted before the meeting. The Department would try and go through the specific elements that are required by the Committee.
The Chairperson confirmed that the PC received the DSD’s presentation, and received it much earlier than other presentations. The PC had “ticked all the right boxes” and was “happy and grateful” for the DSD’s cooperation.
Background and Context
The DSD had consulted with the DoJ&CD on the three Bills in discussion that day. It had made a number of contributions via providing comments and inputs to the various Bills, primarily because the bills have a direct impact on the DSD’s services, especially as it relates to prevention services’ response and care services. This is the crux of social worker’s work. The DSD would go through those specific inputs meticulously. The DSD is concerned with the “stubbornly rising” levels of GBV and femicide, and it has put a number of measures in place over and above those being discussed in terms of the three bills today.
Domestic Violence Amendment Bill of 2020
Ms Siza Magangoe, Chief Director: GBV-related Matters, DSD, spoke about the Bills themselves. The amendments were presented in tables, which can be found in the presentation.
Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill
(See the presentation.)
Previous Inputs Sent by DSD on the three Bills
The following are DSD inputs:
• Protection Order – to reviewed and its enforcement as victims gets murdered with protection orders in their possession
• DSD Sheltering services – to be stipulated in this Domestic Violence amendment Bill to assist the DSD on the adequate funding of these services in line with chapter 6 of the Victim Support Services Bill
• The granting of bail matter must be done in consultation of the persons/victims affected by the crime committed by the accused
• Victims and witnesses to be supported in attending court proceedings to ensure that the case is strengthened especially the transportation cost
• All potential employees from the process of recruitment on both private and public sector must be vetted against the NRSO when their recruited to work with vulnerable persons
• Bill to cover the role of social workers in supporting the victims with the Victim Impact Report stipulating the professional assessment and professionally formulated opinion on the impact of the crime to the victims. This should be mandatory in all GBVF cases.
State of Readiness to Implement
• The National DSD will monitor the implementation through the existing management structures that are meeting on a monthly and quarterly basis to report on progress with regard to these pieces of legislation.
• It is recommended that the Committee take note of the presentation and input by the DSD.
The Chairperson said that what was not clear, was how the DSD said that it does not have problems with social workers, when, generally, there is a shortage of social workers in the country as alluded to by the President. How can it not be a hindrance for the Department, when there are not enough social workers in the country? He said that once Members had asked questions, the Department could also respond to Ms Claudia Lopes.
[Ms Claudia Lopes, Project Manager: Heinrich Böll Foundation, wrote in the chat: In terms of referrals from SAPS for shelters, will DSD guidelines be for SAPS to first refer to DSD before the complainant can be taken to a shelter, or will SAPS still be able to engage with the shelter directly? This was not clear]
Mr Swart thanked the Acting DG for being in the meeting; the PC appreciated his being there at short notice, and would he please convey the PC’s gratitude for engaging the interfaith leaders? It is very important to speak about behavioural change and values. It is crucial for the PC to understand the role that religious leaders of all faiths can play in engendering moral values, because that is the key: “Our families, our moral values”. The PC is trying to deal with GBV from a criminal justice perspective, which is key, but obviously, from a faith-based perspective and a social perspective, the role that the Department and interfaith leaders can play is absolutely critical. He was going to ask about the shortage of social workers, but the Chairperson had covered that. He thought that it was very important for the PC to get an understanding of the implications of the Act on the amount of social workers that are available. The number of shelters is 136 – given the pandemic, it would appear that there are insufficient shelters, and there were challenges experienced around having sick people in shelters, particularly during the lockdown. He also asked the Department to comment on the implementation of the victim impact report. Given the large number of victims of GBV, to what degree will every victim have a social worker that assists them in both looking at the family environment, and then helping them through the process, and with the victim impact statement? There was a reference to the Victim Support Services Bill; in both this meeting and a previous submission. He thought that the PC would need to look at that Bill very carefully as well. Although it does not fall under the PC’s jurisdiction, he wanted to ask the Acting DG to comment. There are a lot of positive elements to that Bill, but one of the criticisms coming from the NGO sector, such as Rape Crisis, is that it creates a lot of additional red tape to the NGO and non-profit sector, and seeks to criminalise anyone who does not adhere to those regulations. That is the allegation, that the required regulations in terms of that Bill could possibly eliminate many of the formal networks of the NGO sector, given the cost implications. He appreciated that it may have already been dealt with by the Department and the PC on DSD, but there could be Members who are concerned about the implications of that Bill given some of the criticism that is coming from the NGO sector.
Ms Maseko-Jele thanked Mr Mchunu and his team. The Department took this very seriously as the very same people that the PC needs to pass the message to. The PC believed that the team would go back to the Minister, which the PC appreciated. Because of the issue of social workers, she did not think that the Department was ready. The social workers are the DSD’s “soldiers” on the ground. She said that social workers were complaining about being overworked. The very same soldiers are expected now to take on this issue that the PC sees as very serious. There will be pressure on social workers to make sure that there is work happening on the ground. The Department would essentially “wound” already wounded soldiers.
There is also the issue of budget, which the PC has indicated to the other Department (DoJ&CD). The PC wanted to know the budget on this. It knows that the Department is already dealing with these issues, but specifically on this issue of GBV. It wants to know because for the social workers to be hired, the Department needs a budget to be able to add to the social workers that South Africa currently has. If the Department does not have a budget for this matter, there will be a problem, because the PC still feels that there are not enough shelters. The PC appreciates that this is one department dealing with many issues. She wanted to applaud the Department for what it is dealing with for South Africa. It also has to be careful in making sure that it silences the noise on these issues, because it is the one dealing with all of those issues.
The issue with the shelters is that they do not have enough resources and shelters are not treated the same. She was also including the NGOs which helped government with shelters. The people who are helping with shelters are complaining that the Department is not taking care of them. There are people who are in “informal” shelters; they come and shelter, because people run to a place of safety that is closest to them, but these shelters are not recognised by the Department. When the PC was dealing with the three bills, these were some of the issues that the PC discovered on the ground. She asked if the DG could cover her on that question, particularly on informal shelters, that are coming from NGOs.
On the continuous training of social workers: she was sure that she would not be saying something that the Department does not know. When the PC goes to the communities, there are a lot of complaints. She sympathises with those who are trying to do their best, but there are still those elements that are not doing their job. When the community comes to them, such elements will say that they are short-staffed and do not have enough. To make an example: There were people living opposite her, where the parents of the children passed on. There were three boys who were still at school and one was at university. She wanted to give that scenario to show that it is not really all the social workers that are helping on the ground.These social workers assisted these children, and took them to the lawyers. With due respect to the lawyers that are doing their work, but in this case, it was an unscrupulous lawyer that took the children’s case. The lawyer facilitated the buying of a house which they knew would not be vacated by the owners. The social workers could not then help. A family friend took the children in, but the social workers never came back to check on the children. The case was still at this stage as she spoke. She wanted to highlight the issue of what is happening on the ground, including the load that the PC still has to address, regarding GBV. She wanted to show how difficult things were on the ground. There are lots of complaints coming through about social workers. She asked if the Department has a plan to train these social workers. Specifically, a plan related to the issues that the PC is talking about. “These soldiers are tired; they are already overloaded”. If there was the budget, the Department would have to get in “new soldiers” to help the PC implement this (the GBV Bills), because this is a priority in the country. On monitoring: In terms of implementation, the Department uses existing management structures that are meeting monthly and quarterly. She asked how effective the structures that the Department has are and if they are going to be used to address issues of GBV.
The Chairperson appealed to the Members not to be repetitive. He asked that once a Member had made its point, could they please proceed to the next point. The meeting would possibly go on until 17:00. He asked that the questions about social workers could be directed to the Acting DG, so that they could be followed up.
Mr Horn asked about the protocols and directives that the Department referred to as still needing to be developed. It is indicated in the presentation that those are only to be developed once the bills become law. The PC does not have an indication as to how long it will take for them to be developed, and ultimately, implemented.
On social workers: What is the current workload versus the ideal workload in terms of the Department’s standards?
There is now a provision in the Domestic Violence Bill, which places mandatory reporting obligations on anybody who becomes knowledgeable of possible domestic violence. He would have hoped that the Department would have briefed the PC on an impact assessment it has done, and how it will add to their social workers' workload. If one had not been conducted, then he would advise that one must be done. During the development phase of the bills, the DSD, in interactions with the DoJ&CD, advocated for a legislative duty for the DoJ&CD to assist shelters, and since that has not been included, he asked that the PC get a proper understanding of what the impact will be of the non-inclusion of that legislative duty to assure alternative sheltering of victims would be.
Ms Mofokeng commended the Department for the Acting DG being a part of the process. The DSD said that it has a number of challenges. One of these is the Criminal Matters Amendment Bill. The current position is that victims are not informed when the accused is granted bail. One understands that and really sympathises with victims. The Department is not saying anything about economic abuse. The Department ends up having many shelters, because it does not actually look at talking about the economic abuse that is in the current Domestic Violence Act. She asked if the Department is happy with that, when that many women have to come to shelters, and it is not saying anything about the economic abuse. She praised the inclusion of spiritual abuse; that proposed inclusion will be in good hands because the Minister is busy with discussions with the faith-based communities. On the referral system (IJC), she asked how many officials are trained in that regard. It is very clear that the Department does not have a budget. If it does not have a budget, did it manage to start costing? It cannot just say that it does not have a budget; the Department needs to share with the PC how it costed everything that is coming with the three GBV Bills. On the NRSO: the DSD has been the custodian of that, therefore the PC asked the Department to share its challenges regarding the NRSO. Now, with the law that it is drafting for older persons, and looking at a bigger scope, also with the challenges of different NGOs, and others saying that persons should be on the register; the proposal being 15, others saying 20. It asked for information on what is in the Bill. She appreciated what had been said by the DoJ&CD that already, it has noticed that there is a challenge with the management of NRSO.
Ms Newhoudt-Druchen thanked the DSD for its presentation. She also thanked the Acting DG for being present in the meeting. She always appreciates the DSD, because in seven provinces, there are deaf social auxiliary workers. These deaf social auxiliary workers can communicate directly with the deaf clients who need assistance when the social worker does not understand sign language. She supported that and appreciated that. She wanted to add to what her colleagues had said, namely that the DSD had not mentioned intermediaries. Normally in court a deaf victim who uses sign language, and the interpreter perhaps does not understand the dialect, then it is always good to have an intermediary who is a deaf social auxiliary worker to assist with the proceedings. But such workers do not get that training as intermediaries. She wanted to ask if it was possible to provide intermediary training to deaf social workers, who can then assist in court cases or in court proceedings. The PC hears a lot about cases that are reported to SAPS, but somehow the dockets go missing, or the cases never end up on the court roll. She asked whether the DSD can or already assists the SAPS to ensure that cases end up on the court roll, and in supporting the victim. If it does provide that assistance, can it advise on what that is? She remembered that during the public hearings, one of the NGOs said that there are 200 names of children who are on the sex offenders register. The Constitutional Court made a ruling that those names must be removed, but it is a big struggle to get those names removed. She asked what DSD is doing with regard to the names of children that are on the register.
The Chairperson noted the comments in the chat box. He asked that the Department answer those questions where it could.
Responses by the Department of Social Development
Mr Mchunu asked Ms Magangoe to respond on the issue of referrals and said other colleagues would respond to specific issues as well. He said that it was an oversight on his part not to highlight the challenges that the DSD has with the shortage of social workers.
Ms Magangoe said that there was a question on how during the COVID-19 lockdown - access to shelters was a challenge during this time. Victims/survivors were not able to access services. It is true; the DSD also got the report that people are struggling to access the shelters. The Department, the entire cluster, and UN Women, developed referral pathways that made access to shelters easier. It also had consultation with the national NGO that is responsible for shelters, on how best to improve access. This is a time when many women need access to shelters. After those deliberations and consultations, the Department began to come up with a solution for the shelters. Some shelters cited the issue of isolation; in terms of the COVID-19 protocols, the shelters are expected to have an isolation room, but they did not have an isolation room. The Department had to assist shelters to come up with COVID-19 protocol measures, to make sure that they complied, and are still able to render services. It had a conversation to say, in an event where a small shelter does not have an isolation room, then how does said shelter access another shelter to assist it with an isolation room? After a person has been accepted there, and have stayed for some time, then that person can be admitted. After those mechanisms were put in place, there was access to shelters. There are issues in general with shelters. There was an outcry that the Department does not have adequate shelter, and therefore it becomes difficult for victims to access shelters. After the President declared shelters as one of the legacy projects that the Department needs to work on, and make sure that post-COVID-19, the Department has adequate shelters. It did a mapping exercise to check how many shelters it has in the country, per district. From that exercise, it picked up that there are only eight districts that do not have adequate shelters. Based on that assessment, it is working with the provinces to find a better way of establishing those shelters; even if the state does not establish the shelter, then let the Department provide support to an NGO that is in the area, and willing to put in place the shelter, so that the Department can improve access to shelter so that when the Victim Support Services Bill is finalised, then it has enough shelters in place that are able to provide those services.
On referral: one of the challenges that the Department has picked up is that GBV is an inter-sectoral issue, meaning that a victim can start anywhere to access services. If the Department does not have a strong referral system, it is easy to lose the victims; the victims can fall through the cracks. A victim can start at SAPS, open a case, but might not reach the DSD to access psychosocial services. Or a victim can start with the DSD, and might not necessarily reach SAPS to open a case. The referral system is key in making sure that victims do not continuously fall through the cracks. As the DSD is finalising these referral guidelines, it is doing it with all the departments that are affected. It keeps on refining the system, and it believes that at the end of the process, the system will be able to keep the victims safe.
On training: one of the things that the Department picked up was that some of the social workers providing generic services do not specialise in GBV, and it becomes difficult to assist or to intervene when dealing with a victim of GBV. Because of the lack of understanding and knowledge, people become secondarily victimised. The Department has developed specialised training, and it has entered into partnerships with various organisations that are specialising in trauma. Every year, the Department provides training; even now, during COVID-19, it has trained over 100 social workers who specialise in trauma counselling, to make sure that workers are able to provide adequate responses.
On victim impact statements: The Department does understand that the victim impact statement service is going to make demands on the social workers. There will be more social workers needed to write the victim impact statement. The Department has acknowledged that it does not have adequate state social workers. Because it has GBV forums, it is consulting the forums to talk to civil society, to discuss whether all social workers, both in the state, as well as civil society, will be able to provide trauma services according to area. Therefore ensuring that when demand for the service comes, it will not necessarily be provided by the state only, but any other social workers who are trained in providing a victim impact report. The monitoring and evaluation (M&E), in terms of the structures that the Department spoke about, it does have management structures that are already running, to monitor all the measures that are being talked about. Those forums are already in existence, they are operational, and they are functional. The Department will be able to generate reports based on the work that they are doing.
Ms Isabella Sekawana,Chief Director: ECD, DSD, responded regarding the children who are supposed to be removed from the NRSO. It is not the DSD’s responsibility; it is the responsibility of the DoJ&CD. The Department’s job is the Child Protection Register, for perpetrators who have been convicted in terms of the Children’s Act; this issue is under the jurisdiction of the DoJ&CD.
On using social auxiliary workers to provide intermediary services to victims: It is something that the Department notes, and will have to come up with an action plan on how it is going to ensure that it supports children.
Adv Luyanda Mtshotshisa, Specialist: Legislative Drafting, DSD, said that the Department had developed a Victim Support Services Bill, which is, among other things, intended to register anyone in the business of dealing with victims, and providing services to victims. There are challenges; when it received comments, there were comments from a number of churches who are not keen to register. That is where the issue of the red tape is coming from. Churches say that they do not want to register because there are challenges if they will be required by the Department to register. Unfortunately for them, because the understanding is that the Department wants to have everyone who is in the space of victim empowerment to be registered by the Department. The challenges that the Department is facing there is that it does not know which is the correct church, and which is the incorrect church. It has various people who become secondarily victimised when they go to some of the churches; there are various stories in the media about people who were raped by pastors in churches. If there is red tape that is required, then the Department needs to leave it at that because it needs everybody to be registered. The challenge is that the comments that it received are that churches do not want to register to provide psychosocial services to victims of domestic violence. The Department says that it needs to register everyone. On the issue of the directives: The Department did not put a time frame on when it would finalise that, because the mandate is a shared mandate between the DSD and other stakeholders. But the DoJ&CD is the principal stakeholder; the way that the amendment is read is that the Minister of the DoJ&CD must, in consultation with the Minister of Social Development and other stakeholders, develop directives. The DSD does not have the ability to say when exactly it will finalise that, because the DSD is not the lead department in the development of the directives.
Mr Mchunu responded to the issue of work overload experienced by social workers. Generally, social workers are very stressed; one of the reasons for that is because the work is generic in nature. One does not have a social worker that deals with children, that deals with families, that deals with GBV; one social worker would be responsible for all of those areas. The Department is trying to develop a national strategy to better deal with this particular challenge. The Department does have social service practitioners, which includes social auxiliary workers, child and youth care workers, etc., which the Department makes use of, to allow social workers to focus more on statutory and psychosocial services. That is part of the work the Department is doing to try and lessen the workload. On there not being adequate numbers of social workers; indeed, there is a shortage of social workers in the country. As social ills in the country increase, there would be a need for more social workers. In some cases, there “is a bit of an anomaly; we tend to employ more police officers than social workers” (Mr Mchunu stated that this was his own opinion). That is a responsive measure as opposed to being a preventative measure; South Africa should employ more social workers so that it employs fewer police as time goes on, because it would be able to prevent some of the challenges that the country faces. The issue of social workers, without absolving the DSD, is bigger than the DSD. In 2018, there was a Cabinet decision taken that all government departments need to absorb social workers. In some cases, it has seen this operating very well, and in other cases, not. The DoJ&CD is one of the biggest employers of social workers. The DSD is also working with the DBE, some metros and a number of other departments to continue absorbing social workers. During COVID-19, the DSD saw an opportunity to employ more social workers, particularly to deal with both the “affected and infected citizens”. It employed almost 2 000 social workers during the lockdown, to deal specifically with the issues of GBV and children. The DSD is doing a range of other things, including having a scholarship programme. But the Department must indicate that funding is a primary problem. It is not always, including provincial departments, provided an adequate budget to employ social workers. It thinks that with engagement in such committees, it will assist, as legislators, to lobby and continue engaging with the relevant powers that be around a budget that is sufficient to absorb social workers. It has done a number of training sessions, including trauma training, which it increased during COVID-19. The Department is working on a strategy to see how best it can deal with the challenge of the absorption of social workers, particularly by other government departments. It has also encouraged provinces within the specific districts to have registers of social worker graduates. South Africa “churns out a lot of social workers”; the challenge becomes the employment and absorption after they have qualified. The Department is working with other departments to ensure that it manages this process better. Mr Mchunu said that it would be remiss of him if he did not use this platform to appreciate the cadres on the ground, the frontline workers, social workers, for the hard work that they have been doing, particularly during COVID-19. Social workers have to endure very gruesome cases at times, and very difficult cases at times. It is important to acknowledge and appreciate the hard work that such workers have done. Even during COVID-19, the Department had a lot of social workers dying in the line of duty, and he thought that it was important to acknowledge and appreciate, and remember, the hard work that they have done during “these most difficult times”. If the Department had not answered all of the questions, it was happy to respond in writing; if the Secretariat could assist in providing it with those unanswered questions, it would appreciate that very much.
The Chairperson said that the PC will ask the DoJ&CD to respond to the removal of children in terms of section 51 subsection three. As the Department is responding to that, could the departments please look at the chat; for example, questions asked by Ms Mofokeng were not responded to. There were two or three questions asked by the NGO sector as well.
Mr Swart said that for his question on the Victim Support Services (VSS) Bill, the response was largely about churches not wanting to register. He appreciated that that might be the sentiment, but his question was much broader, and referred specifically to concerns from Rape Crisis and a number of NGOs. It was interesting that the respondent chose to single out churches. He was not saying that churches had not complained about the need to register, but he would ask that the PC look into that as well, because the comments are much broader; they are from the broader section of civil society complaining about registering. That is a separate Act. He might be “out of line” to raise it in the meeting, but it does have an impact on victim support and victim support services. It is critical that the PC look into that as well, and the objections that are being raised to that.
Mr Horn said that there was a reference made to budgetary constraints. The PC did not ask about the impact of the budget cuts all departments are facing; the PC knows that with respect to the DSD, what happened is that the provincial governments are also receiving allocations. It would be helpful if the Department could give a detailed breakdown as to how budgets have been cut due to the current economic situation, and what the effect has been on provincial departments. It is well and good to hear that the GBV Bills will be implemented, but if the Department is facing budget cuts, it is difficult to understand how. There is a constant issue with the discrepancies between the payment of social workers formally employed in the Department versus those employed by NPOs that were assisted by the Department. If the PC could get a breakdown of the differences in those salaries, and how the Department will address that going forward, that would also be helpful.
The Chairperson said Mr Horn’s questions would need to be responded to in writing. The Department could not respond in the meeting, because it would need details to answer those questions.
Ms Mofokeng said that one of her questions that was not answered yet was on whether the Department had started costing. Her question was related to what Mr Horn was saying. The PC cannot listen to the Department say that there is no budget for this or that, and understand that there are cuts; without knowing whether it has started costing. On the IJS, she asked if the Department is having officials trained, so that it does not depend on somebody else or the DoJ&CD. On the NRSO: she asked what the current challenges are. She added that if the Department could not answer those questions now, the PC would allow it to send written responses.
On the removal of children in terms of section 51, subsection 3: Adv Kambula said that the Act that was passed by Parliament to amend the provision that relates to the removal of children from the NRSO stated that it placed a responsibility on the children; i.e., a person who was a child at the commission of the alleged offense, first, to make an application for the removal of the name. Secondly, it is the responsibility of the person who was a child at the time to address the court on the reasons for such an application, and also to show good cause why it is unlikely he/she will commit another sexual offence against a child or a person with a mental disability. The person must also submit an affidavit to the court to that effect. It then placed a responsibility on those people who were children at the time of the committed offence to make those applications. The court will then consider the application. There will be an enquiry in terms of the Act; the Act requires that. As soon as the amendment was made, the Department started to communicate to the public to inform them of this amendment, and the opportunity for those children who are on the register to have their names removed; the Department has had a number of names removed from its register upon the applications that it received. The names were removed upon receipt of orders from the court. The Department is still waiting for those who would like to make those applications to have their name removed. Quite a huge number of those children were removed from the register. In response to Ms Mofokeng: Yes; at the beginning, this was a new intervention for the Department and the country, namely having a NRSO The Department experienced a challenge as it started with the implementation of the register, because the data systems of the different departments, including the DSD, was not collecting statistics on the ages of children, and on victims with mental disabilities. As it moved on, the NRSO, i.e. the electronic system, has been upgraded over the years by the Department. It did a big upgrade last year, where it spent a sizable amount on ensuring that it has variables that would be assisting courts to collect this data, and to ensure that there is a similar communication, and also transmission of data. The data must be accurate. Now with the NRSO, the Department has managed to have the full implementation of the NRSO. The Department is registering new convictions, and historic convictions. It is removing some names; one can make an application to have one’s name removed because the period allows one to make that application. The Department is also vetting officials who are providing direct services to children and persons with mental disabilities.
DSD follow-up questions and responses
Mr Mchunu said that there has been some costing done. The recent budget cuts will compound the challenges. The Department has worked with provinces, and recently, presented to the PC on Social Development on the element of costing. It is a “moving target” that it is working with, but it has taken that into consideration. It has asked provinces to reprioritise budgets to ensure that provinces are able to employ more social workers.
The Chairperson said that he will always have a challenge with general words. For him, when the Acting DG says, “some costing has been done” the PC is here to get specifics. The PC does not use general words, because it wants something that it can point to so that it can evaluate and monitor. When the Acting DG talks about costing, he must be specific.
Mr Mchunu said the Department will engage with the provinces and put together what has been done on the costing for social workers, and then it will share that with the Committee.
The Chairperson replied that that was fine.
Ms Magangoe responded to the question on referral guidelines: The referral guidelines that will be developed will be done in consultation with SAPS and the other relevant departments. As the Department said, it is addressing an inter-sectoral matter; a victim can start anywhere. The issue of working together on this is critical. On whether SAPS will be able to engage directly with the shelters, the Department has already started doing that at GBV CCCs (Central Command Centres), where SAPS can directly deal with (incidents). When the Department answers calls, and the call needs SAPS, the Department refers them to SAPS. After SAPS has intervened, they are able to access some of the shelters, but not all of them. The guidelines will be able to make sure that they create access with SAPS in dealing with shelters. It is work that the Department is currently busy with, and it will be addressing the gaps that it is having at the moment. On training: The Department has embarked on training officials that will be dealing with the matter of referral, especially when it comes to the system, because this referral is more digital than paper-based. There are officials that have been earmarked for this work, to ensure that they do the referrals; there is training on the system that the IJS is currently assisting the Department with.
Ms Maseko-Jele asked about the register. There are those who applied to be removed. There are also those who are ignorant, or who might not apply for one reason or another. One finds that they complied, and their names are still there. She asked what is to be done in those cases.
Adv Kambula replied: The amendment places the responsibility on a person who was a child at that time to make an application. As the questions were coming though, she realised that the Department needs to go back to the radio stations and make the call for those people to come back, for those who are willing to make the application. There is another test that applicants will need to pass, and prove to the court that they will not be able to commit another sexual offence against a child or a person with a mental disability in future.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Presentation
Adv Pierre Smith, Special Director of Public Prosecutions, NPA, presented. He had summarised the relevant Bills on the first slide.
NPA envisaged responsibilities
• NPA related responsibilities towards said Legislation (in the main Acts) are already accounted for in NPA voted funds: therefore, no additional budget will be required once the Bills are passed.
• At most, the applicable NPA directives will have to be updated accordingly and existing training curriculum will be reviewed in line with the latest amendments. This will be incorporated in relevant training sessions for prosecutors.
• A formal communiqué will be submitted to the regions to sensitise prosecutors re. the latest amendments following the enactment of the Bills.
• It must be noted that the successful implementation of the Bills, once passed, by the NPA will depend on the availability and functionality of required equipment (in courts) to be provided by the DoJ&CD (where applicable) in line with relevant legislation.
• The NPA is committed to the successful implementation of these Bills.
Mr Horn said that the sexual offences courts regulations have been finalised, but the way he understood it, in between the Department and hopefully the NPA, what is now being done is that an assessment of all the court facilities is being undertaken to make a decision as to which courts had been identified and earmarked to serve as sexual offences courts in terms of the new regulations. Since he forgot to ask the Department that question, it would be helpful if Adv Smith could confirm whether the NPA is part of this exercise, and how this exercise is progressing, given the fact that this is actually something that is presupposed even by the bills that the PC is currently dealing with, and as of yet have not been finalised.
Adv Breytenbach said that she was covered by Mr Horn.
Mr Swart wanted to ask about the issue that the NPA will depend on the availability and functionality of required equipment in courts, to be provided by the DoJ&CD in line with relevant legislation, as well as the issues relating to court hours, delays in finalising cases, and secondary victimisation trauma. The NPA is sitting with implementation issues that are a challenge to the NPA, and it has already made submissions in this regard. Clearly, some of it is out of the NPA’s control. This is something that the PC needs to bear in mind when it asks the NPA to produce convictions; there are certain things that are beyond its control. What more can the NPA do in this regard? The second question related to the submissions by SAPS, namely on the first submission when it alluded to a number of practical implementation issues that would be on interpreting the law. The SAPS submission today (Friday, 6 November) indicates that it has had discussions with the NPA on the legal definitions and the practical implementation of that. He asked the NPA to give feedback as to whether SAPS and the NPA had had discussions; last time, he had suggested that SAPS and the NPA should get together and have these discussions. He also asked for feedback on the outcome of those discussions regarding the practical implementation of the PC’s proposed amendments.
Response by the NPA
On the regulations: The NPA does have a responsibility to do directives in this regard. It has done the directives; it is in a consultative process in line with section 66 of the relevant legislation to consult with the relevant departments. The NPA has already received positive feedback from the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) in line with those directives that it drafted.
On the assessment of court facilities: The DoJ&CD is in the process of facilitating that process, and the NPA is participating in that. Adv Smith could confirm that under the leadership of the DoJ&CD, the process was ongoing, and also some of the judiciary, specifically the Regional Court President from Limpopo, Ms Jakkie Wessels, is also participating in this process, to develop a tick box on what the requirement should be, and how the courts will meet those requirements.
In reply to Mr Swart: The NPA does have certain interdependencies when it comes to the finalisation of these cases and dealing with the backlogs. The DNA process is one process where the NPA works closely with SAPS at the moment, and there is positive feedback in that regard. What is crucial to remember at this stage is that the NPA is in constant negotiations or discussions with its colleagues, including SAPS, on the interpretations, legal definitions and how the specific pieces of legislation should be applied, and how the NPA can use that also in the different training environments for purposes of skills development, so that the relevant stakeholders will have the necessary equipment when they deal with these types of matters.
The stakeholders will then know what the law states, and how to implement the law accordingly. In going forward, the NPA will provide more comprehensive feedback in that regard to the PC. Stakeholder cooperation is a crucial element for all DPP (directors of public prosecutions) divisions, and it is part of their performance contract that stakeholder cooperation is a responsibility that needs to be delivered on by all the DPP divisions, but specifically with a focus on GBV and femicide, to ensure that the NPA improves services in this regard constantly.
Department of Basic Education (DBE): State of Readiness to Implement GBV Bills
Mr Likho Bottoman, Deputy Director: Social Mobilisation and Support, DBE, presented. The outline of the presentation was as follows (see the presentation for the full details of all sections):
1. DBE contribution
2. Advocacy materials
3. Structural arrangement
4. Securing the Constitutional Right to Education for learners in Conflict with the Law
5. Curriculum delivery at Child and Youth Care Centres
6. Partnership Protocol Between Department of Basic Education and the South African Police Service
7. Programmes and Tools
• Comprehensive Sexuality Education through LO (CSE). Delivery of the Life Orientation curriculum for violence prevention and reversing the negative effects of harmful gender norms.
• Social Cohesion & Nation Building co-curricular programmes for raising awareness of positive behaviour, and the values that promote a peaceful society.
• National Strategic Plan 2020-2030 of the Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (NSP GBVF)
• Pillar 2: Prevention and Rebuilding Social Cohesion. Five-Year Outcomes
• Changed behaviour and social norms within key groups as a result of the rollout of evidence-based prevention interventions.
• Optimally harnessed Violence against Children (VAC) programmes that have an impact on GBV eradication.
• Educational programmes to children placed to compulsory residence in Special Schools or Child and Youth Care Centres.
• Assisting the Department of Social Development, with the monitoring of compulsory school attendance orders, which can be imposed by a children’s court as either a diversion option or a non-custodial sanction.
• Upon admission, a vulnerability assessment and learner profile is completed by the school where the learner has been placed.
Securing the Constitutional Right to Education for learners in Conflict with the Law
• Child Justice National Policy Framework directs that DBE must provide educational programmes to children sentenced to compulsory residence in Child and Youth Care Centres.
• In partnership with the Department of Social Development (DSD), DBE monitors compulsory school attendance orders, which can be imposed by a Child Justice Court as either a diversion option or a non- custodial sanction, and
• Awareness-raising amongst school-going children, of the dangers of crime to support crime prevention, as well as what children’s rights and responsibilities are when they are involved with crime.
Partnership Protocol between Department of Basic Education and the South African Police Service
• The Department of Basic Education is responsible for monitoring and supporting provinces in the implementation of the National School Safety Framework (NSSF) in education districts across the country.
• Through the partnership (Protocol) with the South African Police Service (SAPS), DBE is involved in crime awareness campaigns and programmes with a strong focus on encouraging reporting of incidents by the schools on the South African Schools Administration Management System (SA.SAMS).
• Working with Community Policing Forums and the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC), DBE mobilises communities to take up ownership of schools. This also enhances efficiency of the referral system for learners with deviant behaviours (repetitive ill-discipline).
Programmes & Tools
• Girls and Boys Education Movement (GBEM), Always Keeping Girls in Schools Programme (AKGS) (peer education), Adolescent Girls and Young Women Programme, Boys Vulnerability and Promotion of Positive Masculinities.
• Action Group on Violence Prevention and Child Protection.
• Protocol for Management & Reporting of Sexual Abuse and Harassment in Schools.
• Circular for School Assembly to end School-related GBV.
• Portfolio Committee to note the readiness of the basic education sector to implement the bills dealing with GBV.
• Besides the school admission policy, which would need to be strengthened so that the Department is ready to start working with the children (even before they are admitted to schools), the other thing that is still pending (and is critical for the implementation of these bills) is the standard operating procedures for the employment of educators. These include issues of vetting, e.g., vetting potential educators for sexual offences, and whether they are fit or not to work with children. The DBE would also be working with the South African Council of Educators (SACE), and the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC), to just make sure that it works with its partners such as the NPA, DSD, etc. so that the register of sex offenders is in place. That is work that is still underway. All the technical and the content-related matters are already taken care of. The only thing is to just make sure that all of the DBE stakeholders that have got a contribution into the standard operating procedures do append their signatures on these procedures, so that the entire system works in unison for the implementation of these bills.
The Chairperson said that the DBE’s task is a difficult task, because if it can succeed at its level, it will go a long way in dealing with the scourge on South African society. The PC needs the DBE’s support at that level.
Mr Horn wanted to ask what the Department has done in order to ensure that there is a proper interface in respect of the NRSO in relation to vetting. He agreed with the Chairperson that education is essential in addressing the scourge of GBV, sexual violence and domestic violence. In that regard, the PC commended the Department on the content of its curriculum. What is missing from the presentation (there was reference to the structural arrangements) is that going forward, apart from the admissions policy, as part of the standard operating procedures, there must also be a monitoring policy. This should be the case specifically so that if one thinks mandatory reporting could become a part of the law in respect of domestic violence. If one takes into account the presentations that the PC has received, it might have a chilling effect on reporting, specifically those that have knowledge in the immediate circle of victims. One would think that the school environment, specifically of children who are either victims or secondary victims, could be ideally placed for reporting obligations, because they are more than an arm’s length away from what is happening. He wanted to hear from the Department how it is thinking about those mandatory obligations, specifically in respect of the duties and the burdens it will place on educators.
Ms Newhoudt-Druchen wanted to add to what Mr Horn had just asked. She asked where mandatory reporting would take place in schools and particularly for special needs schools where disabled children live at the school and deaf children may experience abuse by the educators; if the educators themselves are the abusers. Perhaps the hostel staff would be aware of that activity; she wanted to know who in the school would be reported to. Many of the schools do not have psychologists or social workers. With some schools, the Department will send a social worker or psychologist, maybe one or two days a week, but those professionals are not on the premises every day. She asked who would be delegated to be the mandatory reporter if the child lives at the school and if there would be a system. Deaf children in special schools are still abused by educators; whether the Department is aware or not aware, she did not know. Whether it is the educators or the bus drivers, the offenders are still working at the schools. The Department needs to support the schools more in terms of this. On advocacy materials, and the different programmes for girls and boys: she asked how receptive and welcoming schools are of these programmes. Her Catholic school was very opposed to such programmes. Generally, she wanted to know how the Department is finding the schools’ acceptance or willingness to use advocacy materials. She is a firm believer that “the earlier you teach a child how to detect that something is wrong, the sooner a child will learn to report it”. With a deaf child, they cannot talk to their deaf parents; they cannot communicate with their deaf parents. Such children stay in the hostel, for example, and some the educators do not want to give sex education; and maybe some parents do not want their children to receive sex education; there are all of these different factors. She was happy to hear that there is some kind of partnership between SAPS and DBE and asked if SAPS still goes to schools, including schools for children with special needs, to give assistance with presentations and other kinds of assistance.
Mr Swart said that “we all support age-appropriate sexual education, that protects children from being abused, but there is a lot opposition to the comprehensive sexuality education”. He was sure that the Department knows of the ACDP’s opposition as well. He did not want to enter a political debate about that issue, but there are concerns that it could lead to increase in sexual offences against children. He wanted to ask about the issue of mandatory reporting, and the role that teachers play in that, where they have insight, and a child tells them about domestic violence taking place at home. A child comes to school, and mentions this to a teacher, and then there is a need for the teacher to report that, and the impact that has on the family environment. Can the Department give an indication of how it deals with that with a great deal of sensitivity, and understanding the abuse to be taking place against the child’s mother, or against the child itself? He supported reporting as much as possible in that regard. The second issue was security at schools, and the role of gangsterism, that has an impact on schools and also wide reports of sexual offences against children in schools. He wanted further indications; while this legislation is passed, it must have a holistic approach in protecting children. There is also the issue where teachers are accused of sexually abusing children, even where there might be a degree of “consent” by a child who cannot give “consent” below a certain age, in exchange for something. Clearly this is covered by legislation, but there is a challenge in the practical implementation on the ground; “we as MPs are concerned about how it is being implemented (i.e. legislation that has been passed and the proposed amendments that will seek to improve the fight against GBV)”.
Ms Mofokeng asked about sexual abuses at school. On the issue of boarding schools, there have been a number of cases in schools, where boys were sexually abused by teachers. The PC knows of cases, and it knows of one in Johannesburg. One wants to appreciate teachers and the Department for the work being done; it is a very difficult thing. This is a historic challenge; one finds that later in life, children are coming out (with their stories), whether it be in sports; there was the case of Bob Hewitt, where a child was taken out of school to be groomed. What will the Department be doing, knowing all of those challenges? The PC appreciates all of the systems that the DBE is trying to set up, because there is the challenge of the budget. She was looking at these teams, and asking herself about how the Department does not have enough social workers, it does not have psychologists. Is the Department looking at having boarding schools that are going to have more onsite support by hiring more social workers? No parent will want to take children to a boarding school where there are challenges, and the children have to wait until tomorrow to tell their teacher; one finds that the person who is employed as the boarding house madam or master, cannot do anything. Or, that person could be protecting other teachers. Can the Department tell the PC what its experience has been with this and what is it planning to do? How will it pay the social workers and psychologists?
Ms Maseko-Jele said she was covered by Ms Newhoudt-Druchen and Ms Mofokeng, particularly on the issue of the school environment. She also wanted to know what the Department is going to do, and its plans for creating a conducive environment for the little ones to be able to talk to teachers, old people, etc., and report what is happening, especially when it is a teacher. She thought that it is very difficult to report in that case. She remembered the issues of Soweto where a caretaker was raping children; when these children reported, they were not taken seriously. She was sure that now there is something happening, but she wanted to know if there was something happening now, as the PC emphasises these issues. She said that Ms Newhoudt-Druchen covered her questions on the police going to the schools. Is SAPS assigned to a particular school? Or does SAPS go there at certain times to check on things? Or are there police who are assigned to assist the schools with everyday issues as and when they crop up?
Responses by the Department of Basic Education
Mr Bottoman thanked the Members for the questions that had been raised. On a proper interface with the NRSO, the Department is developing standard operating procedures. It is keen to address that issue. It has all the stakeholders who are involved in the design and utilisation of this register as part of the signatories of the standard operating procedures. A Member was saying that part of the difficulty for the DBE is that all of these responsibilities lie outside of DBE, yet these are supposed to support what the DBE is doing. Through the development of a strategic operational framework, it gives the Department an engagement platform with the different stakeholders, so that it does what it needs to do. The Department is aware that it has not reached a level of perfection, but it is going to get there, and at least the country agrees on what needs to be done to ensure proper interface with all of the relevant stakeholders regarding the NRSO on what needs to be done, and who needs to do what.
On the monitoring policy, the Department “did not think of a monitoring policy”, but rather, it spoke of an implementation plan for the standard operating procedures. That implementation plan could also serve as a monitoring policy, because it would show some of the indicators and activities that need to be done. When it does its district monitoring as part of its district implementation model, it would then be able to factor in the monitoring activities, as part of the implementation plan.
On mandatory reporting obligations, maybe at another time, when things are normal and the PC has the time, the DBE can come back and go through the protocol for the management and reporting of sexual abuse and harassment in schools, so that all understand what the provisions are in that protocol. But the provisions in terms of ensuring mandatory reporting obligations is that because the protocol is to guide what happens in the schooling system, it then controls what happens in the schooling system, and it then places an obligation on the teacher and school principal for mandatory reporting. There is a section in the protocol that deals with what happens in the case when the offender is a teacher or a principal and who then takes responsibility for the mandatory reporting obligations, and it begins to suggest who else can then be used as an alternative if this sex offender is either a teacher or a school principal. The Department gives as many options as possible for children so that they are not stuck, should the offender be the very same person to whom they should be able to report cases of sexual abuse and harassment in schools. In the case where there is another person who is suspected, or it has really happened, the teacher and the school principal hold the obligation for mandatory reporting. The DBE can come back to explain the protocols, and can take back with it ideas that come out of the discussions.
On special needs: because the Department has a broad spectrum of safety issues relating to special schools and learners with special needs, it has now approved a disaster risk management plan for special schools, which looks at safety issues broadly. It has not yet homed in on matters related to sexual offences. However, it is the Department’s understanding that many of the special needs schools are full-service, and by design, full-service schools are structured in a way where they should have a multidisciplinary team of health professionals that work either in that school or in a cluster of schools. When the Department looks at some of the reports that have been made by districts and provinces, it knows that there are very few cases that come out from special school and full-service schools. A Member was correct to say that it is probably because these special-needs learners, particularly deaf learners, are not empowered with the skills, the knowledge, and resources they need from districts to ensure that they also are geared to report and speak out against sexual abuse and harassment in schools. There has been discussion about making sure that the Department curates its material; making sure that as it popularises the support material for learners, and increases the participation of learners with special needs. It is correct to say that this is a gap. It is a gap that Mr Bottoman will take back with him, so that the Department will work with a transversal team within the DBE to make sure that it has dedicated, focused, deliberate promotion of participation of learners with special needs in the support programmes that it has made available.
On how receptive learners and school communities are to comprehensive sexuality education: it is a struggle for the basic education sector in South Africa. He thought that in particular, it is a struggle because all have an opinion on what needs to happen with basic education in South Africa. Because of that, one finds that sometimes, members of the public formulate opinions about what comprehensive sexuality education is before they understand what the content is. For South Africa, unlike in other parts of the world, it creates a very clear distinction between sex education and sexuality education. These are two different things. If one looks at the material that the DBE has for comprehensive sexuality education, one will find that the mention of the word “sex” is very minimal. It does not talk about sex much until it gets to a point where it has to talk about it. Largely, the DBE is looking at issues such as goal-setting, building children’s resilience, building their ability to say no, and building their confidence levels. It is giving them all of the self-protective knowledge that children need, because contrary to what a Member indicated, where there seems to be the belief that comprehensive sexuality education raises sexual debut, and other maladaptive sexual behaviour, the evidence that the DBE has (and other evidence) is proving that raising awareness among children helps them to understand that sexual abuse is not only penetrative sex, but also other forms of abuse. Many children have been experiencing these forms of sexual abuse, and other forms of sexual abuse and these children thought that this was “the way to live”. Through the comprehensive sexuality education delivery in schools, now the DBE sees a lot more children speaking out and saying that “if this is inappropriate touch, then my stepfather is touching me like that”, or “my uncle has been touching me like this for years, and I did not see anything wrong with it, until I learned through the curriculum”. The Department knows that there will always be pushback on comprehensive sexuality education, but it has an obligation to make sure that it gives children the information that they need. The Department has always made sure that the information delivered through comprehensive sexuality education is age appropriate, culturally appropriate, scientifically based, and evidence based. Because of that, one will find that the content the Department delivers for the foundation phase is different from the content delivered in the further education and training phase, because one has to take into account the age and stage of development of the children. The DBE has been criticised by the global community, but the global community does not know the full spectrum of the context of South Africa. There have been criticisms that it starts too late with some of the content; because some of its children are already dealing with menstrual issues at nine and ten years of age. Hospitals are seeing many children who are sexually abused younger than age 12. While the DBE is criticised by the global community, it can live with that criticism, because it does not want to push South Africa too hard, even though the DBE knows that this is the way to go, and this is what it needs to do to protect its children.
On police at schools, there is now a National School Safety Framework that the Department is implementing in all its schools. There are particular components of implementation within that framework. Firstly, a school must be linked to a police station. By linking a school to a police station, the Department means the police in that station will periodically visit the school, and conduct random searches and seizures of weapons and drugs in that school. Additionally, a school has a direct line of access to the police commissioner’s cell phone number, as well as a police officer who is assigned to that school, in case there are issues of criminality in that school. The Department wants to make sure that it is not only reactive in its approach. The second component in the National School Safety Framework is the establishment of a functional school safety committee in that school. That school safety committee is supposed to work with a school-based support team, and run prevention programmes in that school, and also make sure that they manage some of the minor kind of violence and criminality in the school, so that there is a first line of defence for the school. Issues of violence and gangsterism, and alcohol and drug abuse in schools, etc. are then taken care of as part of that framework.
On boarding schools having support teams, by design, because children are away from their parents, it means that there has to be added support. The Department has not quite taken care of that, because it knows that boarding schools would have, for example, a house manager, mother or father, and a particular structure that manages domestic issues in a boarding school. Many of the violations and exploitations happen there, and are not reported. How does the Department then make sure that the mandatory reporting obligations, that are in the protocol for management of sexual abuse and harassment in schools, is finding expression in how boarding schools are run? It is another note that Mr Bottoman would take back with him to make sure that the Department must have deliberate efforts to address some of these issues.
On the salaries of social workers, what the Department has done through National Treasury was to make available a small grant for post-provisioning of transversal teams. Transversal teams include social workers, educational psychologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, etc. The Department is making this money available to provinces, so that provinces recruit such people. In the initial stages of receiving that money, the Department spent a lot of time pleading with provinces to begin recruiting people. Provinces took very long to come around to recruitment. He could safely say that in all 71 districts, there are now 60-65% of districts that have now secured and installed their transversal teams in the districts. There are still gaps, and the Department still needs to encourage provinces and districts to continue with the recruitment process, because at least the government has made available modest funding to ensure that the Department has salaries to provide to social workers. The Department may not necessarily be able to have a social worker in each school, because it does not have enough of them, and it does not have that kind of money, but at least can have transversal teams at a district level. These teams go around visiting schools, and they wait for referrals of vulnerable learners who may need these kinds of services.
There was a question on working with younger children, and building their own ability to speak out against sexual abuse. That has been the most difficult. Even with the comprehensive sexuality education, the Department started with grade four. That decision predated Mr Bottoman, so he would not know why the Department started with grade four. It started with grade four, and that eliminates younger children from the conversation, the capacity-building, from the knowledge gap. What the Department has done now, because it has identified that this is a gap in the system, it is working with academic institutions, and child protection organisations, to ensure that it tailor-makes a programme of comprehensive sexuality education for the younger ones. In that programme, the Department ensures that it teaches children, for example, about knowing their bodies, and that someone should not touch them in a certain way. It will be that level of content that is provided to younger children, but the Department also wants to make sure that children know that there is something called sexual violation, and that when it happens, it wants to teach them to identify people that they can go to. Younger children have not been part of the conversation for a while, but he thought that as a country, the Department is joining together with members of the public in a way that is sometimes “graceful, but sometimes very painful”. There has been pushback, and one would think that everyone is together, but suddenly there is a sprout of pushback about comprehensive sexuality education, even from the people that consulted with the Department and who had been sitting on the same side of the table. One must then go back and manage those relationships, because somebody has fallen by the wayside. Stakeholders create noises that derail the Department from doing what needs to be done to protect children. The Department understands this, and has taught itself to live with it. It knows that as it introduces comprehensive sexuality education for the younger children, although Committee Members think it is a good thing to do, the Department knows that it will not be done without opposition.
Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET): State readiness to implement GBV Bills
Mr Gwebinkundla Qonde, Director-General (DG), Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), introduced the presentation. The DHET aimed to outline the work it is doing in relation to GBV. The work that DHET has undertaken stretches back a number of years, the Chairperson would understand that DHET is dealing with youth in the system in South Africa’s colleges, universities, and those in other training programmes. It put mechanisms in place some time ago together with Higher Health, and started engaging in the space of HIV and AIDS, so that it is able to minimise the impact of HIV and AIDS on South Africa’s youth in institutions. DHET has created a number of resources in that regard, which was then linked to education in respect to the conduct of students while they are in the system of education. He noted that DHET is engaged in the process of examinations in its higher education and training colleges, as well as its technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges, and he asked to be excused from the meeting after 15 minutes.
The Chairperson said that there was a similar request from the DG of the DBE. The DG of DHET had been with the PC since the morning, and he did not think that Members would take offense to Mr Qonde’s attending to the issue of examinations, and leaving his capable officials to deal with the rest of the presentation. He thanked the DG of DHET for staying with the PC from 09:00 until now (around 13:00).
A Member agreed with that proposal. The DG was then excused to attend to the examinations issue.
Ms Trudi van Wyk, Chief Director: Social Inclusion, Equity, Access and Quality, DHET, presented on behalf of the DHET.
Background and Rationale
(See the presentation for the full details.)
The DHET created a document titled Policy Framework for the Realisation of Social Inclusion in the
Post-School Education and Training System.
(See the presentation for the full details.)
Purpose of the Policy Framework
(See the presentation for the full details.)
Legislation and Policy Environment
(See the presentation for the full details.)
Aims of the Policy Framework
• Conceptualise GBV or define its manifestation in terms of existing laws and policies
• International and national regulatory framework compelling institutional and departmental responses to GBV.
• Guidance on structures, mechanisms and processes to address GBV.
• Compel institutions to create an enabling environment to inform, prevent, support and monitor GBV in PSET institutions.
• The safety of all students and staff is promoted.
• Supportive, efficient and reparative assistance procedures for complainants/victims are in place.
Outcomes of the Policy Framework
• National and institutional enabling environment is in place to curb GBV
• National support for PSET institutions in implementation of GBV policies
• Students and staff are supported in GBV-related matters
• Awareness and Prevention of GBV is prioritised
• National and institutional systems of accountability are operational
(See the presentation for the full details.)
System of Accountability
• Governance and Management of PSET Institutions
• Institutional Forums/Committees
• National Coordination
- Transformation Managers’ Forum
- SSS (student support service) Forum
- National Social Inclusion Forum
• Directors-General Inter-Sectoral Committee for the Management of Sexual Offences
• GBV occurs outside the institutions (clubs, private accommodation, etc)
• GBV related to social cohesion and not prioritised throughout the year
• Competing priorities (also ito funding)
• Institutional capacity to address GBV
• Not well-established relationships with SAPS and other role players
Mitigation of GBV
• Integrated approach - norms, standards, guidelines for institutions
• A monitoring tool and reporting framework to monitor institutions
• Partnership with Higher Health (HEAIDS) and other Departments’ structures/SAPS/local structures
Higher Health Implementation in Post-School Education and Training
There are seven priority areas: HIV, TB, STIs; sexual reproductive health, maternal health and contraception; gender-based violence; mental health; LGBTQI+; alcohol and drug abuse prevention; and disability. (See the presentation for a diagram showing the Higher Health Model.)
Health and Wellness Activation Trends 2011 to 2019 for TVETs and HEIs
The amount of activations dropped in 2019 because of a lack of funds. (See the presentation for a graph showing activation trends.)
Ms Mofokeng asked about the GBV Realities slide. The first thing it said was that it happens outside of institutions. She did not think that Ms van Wyk had properly considered this statement. Amongst other things on GBV, there is physical, emotional, verbal, and psychological abuse. All of these things can happen at the school. She asked that that part be revisited, because it leaves out what the PC is dealing with. It does happen in many ways. The Department had left out the gist of what domestic violence is about, and what the Domestic Violence Act says about it. She did not hear the presentation talk about how many social workers and psychologists the Department needs to have.. The report from the DBE is one model that Ms Mofokeng thought the Department was supposed to have. The DBE’s model is very clear; it knows how it will move from one point to another. The DHET’s model is very general. It is saying “GBV support” and “student support”; it looks like the Department is now entering into a “by the way, we need to deal with this issue” framing. She acknowledged that the DHET is in a difficult situation, and it is aware of that. Students in higher education experiment; they will experiment with drugs, liquor, and go to parties at clubs. Sometimes clubs are in the institutions themselves, if students are staying in a hostel. Those were some of the things she wished the DHET to look at; when one looks at the situation in most institutions, that is where this is starting. She suggested that the DHET have a look at the DBE presentation. She wished that DHET could sit with the DBE, and look at how the DBE arrived at its model, because this thing starts from basic education. The DHET is at the centre of the problem, because that is an experimental part of a young person’s life and is where specialised support, such as social workers, psychologists and GBV support, is needed. The Department is not saying much about its link – the DBE is saying that it will work with the police, and for every school, it will try to link a school with the nearest police station. The Department’s report “had too many things”, and she wished that it could narrow the report to suit the issues that it is dealing with, especially since the Department had been with the PC since that morning, and it had seen what the DBE is doing; she was speaking on experience of GBV starts at DBE level, however the experimental stage comes at DHET stages. She wanted to thank the Department for presenting, because all parties are here to show each other where they might not have been aware that they are “in danger.”
Mr Horn said that his questions were not strictly related to the implementation when the new bills become law. They also have to do with the historical challenges on campuses with GBV. Firstly, it is so that there is a “culture of silence” on South African campuses regarding sexual violence. He wanted to hear from the Department about what it was doing to change that culture. There is unfortunately still a culture in which initiation, or as it is called, orientation of junior students, sometimes may involve practices that if not in an explicit way constitutes sexual violence, then at least it is borderline sexual violence and must be deemed to be intimidatory in nature on a sexual basis.
Ms Maseko-Jele said that she was covered by Ms Mofokeng’s questions. She requested that as Ms van Wyk was going back to look at Ms Mofokeng’s suggestions , she should also consider that the presentation should reflect different cultures, such as township schools as the former Model C schools were more covered. There are so many things that are happening in the township schools. She was not sure if Ms van Wyk was aware of, for example, the culture of the “washing of the ball pens” when the school closes. Most of the rapes are taking place at that place. The children group themselves, and organise money for themselves throughout the whole year; at the end of the year, they have a party. Some of these things are happening right in front of the teachers at school, even at the schools in town. It happens in the toilets!
The Chairperson asked if maybe the DBE wanted to comment on these issues as well, especially with regard to township secondary schools.
Responses by the Department of Higher Education & Training
Ms van Wyk wanted to start with Ms Maseko-Jele’s questions. Social activities such as parties are “really a problem”. It is happening in South Africa’s institutions. Therefore, the whole policy for accommodation that is currently being finalised is very specific about 1) the management and officials who must be present at those institutions, and 2) the activities that are taking place. The use of drugs and alcohol is a huge problem; that is why the DHET says that it has an integrated approach; it cannot address GBV without the context of drugs alcohol, and other social issues. The Department can assure the PC that it is looking at that. The Department is in the centre of the problem, and is in the centre of where things are happening. It is a diverse student and staff population that the Department deals with, so it remains a challenge, but the Department will always work hard towards implementation.
On Ms Mofokeng’s questions, Ms van Wyk apologised for not being able to present slide 13 comprehensively, because those questions would have been dealt with in that slide. At the bottom of the slide, one could see that the Department has introduced different levels of interventions. The bottom level is where the Department has onsite and bi-monthly appointments with students; it is a routine student on-campus appointment for different health services, where a social worker and also a psychologist is also on campus. At the moment, the Department is establishing, apart from the SSS (student support services), which already have psychologists and social workers, putting additional social workers and psychologists on campuses through its health centres. The Department is establishing health clinics; such clinics are already established in universities that are looking at testing, at screening; not only for GBV, but also screening for health issues such as TB and Eosinophil Cationic Protein (ECP). Its interventions are never enough; she could imagine that one health clinic per institution or one per campus is not enough, but the Department is working towards having a more structured approach by having professional people employed permanently at institutions in the support services. Additionally, the Department has its health workers who are working at a health clinic which includes support to GBV survivors. What is very important is that the Department has a peer-to-peer education process, where it is integrating students, student leadership, as well as lecturers into this programme. That assists the Department a lot in awareness-raising, providing information, and also addressing prevention of the occurrence of GBV. If one refers to the presentation, one will see that since 2011, the Department has increased its centres for activations (e.g. in universities) from 23 in 2011 to 188 in 2018, and to more than 738 in TVET colleges (2018). The Department has gradually improved its activations on a daily basis in its institutions. There is a lot still to be done, but the Department is working progressively; both from the formal side where it has its student support services, and the Higher Health side. The Department has more than R200 million being spent annually on that practical implementation of Higher Health.
On the outside environment: this is one of the Department’s challenges. Ms van Wyk did not say that GBV is not occurring on campus, or that it does not occur in other forms. The reality is that it is occurring outside, and it does involve students outside of campuses. The Department has to have measures to assist those students as well. That is why prevention and awareness-raising is extremely important to address that reality. When the Department talks about the dangers, Ms van Wyk said that she feels so sorry sometimes for students and people working in institutions, and the dangers they face, because they are lurking everywhere. “We are not yet there, and I’m the first to acknowledge that we have to work progressively, we have to work with the SAPS”. Every institution must now report to the Department about its relationship with the local community structures, such as NPOs and NGOs. The Department is not only working at a community level, but is also working at the provincial and national levels. The Department has to support and monitor (GBV work) at all levels.
On the historical challenge of GBV on campuses, it was always there but it was just not reported. When the Department looks at how it has occurred, even just anecdotal evidence that it gets says that GBV did occur and it is still occurring. One of its biggest challenges remains the people who do not report this. The Department encourages students, in its prevention and awareness programmes, to really look at how to report, but also be supported when they are reporting. The Department hears horror stories of students that go in to report, and the dockets just disappear, or the police make a joke out of them, or harass them further. Those kinds of things happen, and when the Department has got student activations and it is talking to students, one hears really sad stories of people who have reported the case to the police, and yet nothing has come from that, or the person was further embarrassed at the police station, etc. These occurrences also contribute to a culture of silence. Ms van Wyk acknowledged that there is a culture of silence within institutions. That is why the Department also tries to work in its monitoring and evaluation at various levels of reporting. If society is not going to allow people to report, and allow people to expose it, then it will not address that culture of silence.
On the initiation of junior students: initiation in all institutions is condemned and is not allowed in student residences or in institutions. “Orientation programme” is a grand name, and sometimes that does not change the behaviour. But if there is any misconduct reported in the orientation programme, the Department is taking it seriously, and staff and senior students are being held accountable. “We condemn all initiation of junior students.
The Chairperson said that there had been a response to Ms Maseko-Jele in the chat box from the DBE.
Ms Mofokeng asked Ms van Wyk about the issue of the University of Johannesburg where a student was raped in a room: What is the consequence management there, because sometimes students rent properties that belong to individual people, and there are no protocols. What will happen, because communities will criticise a university; she did not know if there was any consequence management. Then it means that the Department needs to check on where students are staying, and who looks after these students.
Ms van Wyk replied that the case of the University of Johannesburg is not an isolated case. The Department just got a message about a similar situation that happened at TUT (Tshwane University of Technology). Firstly, there are three types of residences that students at universities or colleges are using. One is university or institutional residences on campus, or university-funded residences. Then there are residences that are vetted by the university as residences that students can use. There are also private residences outside the ambit of the university. Those three levels must be acknowledged. What happened in the case of the University of Johannesburg was that it was a university-vetted institution; the Department immediately removed that designation, and it is not being accredited anymore by the Department to provide residence. Secondly, there is a legal process, like in any situation (of GBV), but also the consequence is that such a residence is now put on a list and all students are aware that that residence is not fit for rental. The Department has institutional norms and standards that have been approved, and that are being implemented at the moment. Those are very important in vetting the institution, and the Department has got people from the university as well as from a national level who are visiting the sites and ensuring that it is fit for accommodation of students. It remains a big challenge for the Department. The residences are one of most vulnerable spaces within the Department’s ecosystem for occurrence of GBV.
Department of Women, Youth & Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD): State of Readiness on the 3 Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) Bills
Adv Mikateko Joyce Maluleke, DG, Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD), introduced the presentation. The DWYPD’s mandate is to ensure and regulate the socioeconomic empowerment of women, youth and persons with disabilities; to advance and promote their participation and contribution to all aspects of life in the public and private sector, and civil society. The Department has to monitor and evaluate implementation of all laws, budgets, and programmes. This includes monitoring the implementation of these three bills. DDG, Ms Shoki Tshabalala will show in her presentation that even the amendments of these bills emanate from the inter-sectoral programme that is led by the Department. In April 2020, Cabinet approved a National Strategic Plan (NSP) on GBV and femicide, which outlines the roles of all government departments to address GBV, and says that the Department should provide the overall coordination of the inter-ministerial committee on GBV, in ensuring the successful implementation of the NSP. The National Strategic Plan has six pillars, which address questions asked by Members from other departmental committees. The first pillar is accountability, coordination and leadership, which requires that all levels of government, the private sector and civil society must respond to the crisis. Pillar two is prevention and rebuilding social cohesion, which addresses structural drivers of GBV. Pillar three looks at justice, safety, and protection, and looks at measures to stop violence before it happens. Pillar four looks at response care, support and healing, which focuses on enforcement, implementation, and adopting laws and policies; providing survivor-focused, accessible, quality services. Pillar five focuses on economic power. It is said that because women and other vulnerable groups lack economic power, they are subjected to violence. This pillar, in terms of the NSP, involves all government departments that are within the economic sector (e.g. Public Works and Infrastructure; Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development). Government departments have a responsibility to implement certain measures and mechanisms in place to address GBV. Pillar six looks at research, where the Department is looking at how to ensure that it understands the causes of violence, and how to respond.
Ms Tshabalala, DWYPD, presented.
Declaration and GBVF-NSP
• Article 5 of the Presidential Summit Declaration Against GBVF signed by the President and civil society networks on 28 March 2019 calls for:
- The review of existing laws and policies applicable to GBVF to ensure that they are more victim-centred and responsive, and that the identified legislative gaps are addressed without delay.
• Article 7 calls for:
- The finalisation of outstanding legislative measures and policies.
One of the Five-Year Outcomes (2020-2024) of the National Strategic Plan on GBVF (GBVF-NSP) is the finalisation of the 3 GBVF Bills initiated during the implementation of the Emergency Response Action Plan (September 2019 – March 2020).
Role of DWYPD in the GBVF-NSP
• Ensuring implementation aligns with GBVF-NSP priorities; and
• Strengthening a multi-sectoral approach to optimally harness the roles, responsibilities, resources and commitment across government departments, different tiers of government, civil society, movements, youth structures, development agencies, the private sector, academic institutions and all stakeholders
State of Readiness – GBVF Bills
• The Department has developed a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) plan that underpins the GBVF-NSP. The 3 GBVF Bills are part of the GBVF-NSP priorities that the department is monitoring.
• Departments including DoJ&CD submit weekly reports on their deliverables that form the basis for monitoring progress in the GBVF-NSP priorities
• A broader M&E framework that seeks to have a 5 year and 10-year focus for government, civil society organisations and the private sector is being developed. This logframe will form the basis for a functional, seamless, robust, comprehensive, and well-coordinated M&E system.
• Processes are in place to establish a National Council on GBVF (NCGBVF) that will be responsible for driving the national response to GBVF, including ensuring implementation of the GBVF Bills as implementation was one of the challenges identified during the conceptualisation of the GBVF-NSP.
• To institutionalize the multi-sectoral implementation of the GBVF-NSP a multi-sectoral implementation collaborative has been established categorized into the six pillars of the GBVF-NSP. One of the pillars is pillar 3 on Justice, Safety and Protection that has a focus on ensuring finalisation, adoption and implementation of the 3 GBVF Bills.
• The Department is working on the legislative framework for the NCGBVF and the 3 GBVF Bills form part of the founding legislative documents guiding the approach of the legislation.
• The Department convenes and is the Secretariat for the GBVF Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) and an enabling GBVF legislative environment is a key area of focus.
Ms Mofokeng thanked the Department and said that the PC should appreciate that both the DG and DDG were in the meeting. She noted that this Department does monitoring and evaluation. She was happy that the Department had been with the PC throughout the meeting, so that it could see which departments are not rising to the occasion when it comes to getting things going. At the end, when things are failing, the PC would be going back to them to say, “By the way, you are doing monitoring”. She was happy that the Department knows where it is going. She asked about the National Council on GBV: Could the PC get timeframes? There is limited time to deal with issues of GBV. She appreciated that the Secretariat from the Department was in the meeting; she wished that the Department could encourage other departments to do the same, and make sure that they are coming to meetings, to ensure that they do their submissions. She also asked about the budget. At some stage, the Department did not have enough of a budget, and now it has this “mammoth task”. How far is the Department in making sure that the costing for the Department is happening?
Ms Newhoudt-Druchen thanked the Department for the presentation. When she read the presentation, there was some terminology, which did not get the sense of whether the Department is happy or unhappy with what is happening on the ground. Is the Department satisfied with the progress, and with the proposed amendments that are being made to the Bills? She was not getting a sense of the Department’s view, because the Department and the DoJ&CD report weekly to the President, but GBV happens on the ground. The women and children feel that they are not getting access to justice. She was not getting a sense of how involved the Department is with the challenges. Could the Department explain its views?
Ms Maseko-Jele noted that the DWYPD is the champion of these three bills when it comes to making sure that these bills are implemented, since it was going to monitor that. The Department had been listening to other departments present on their readiness on these three GBV bills. She wanted to hear from the Department if it is happy with the plans presented, or what is it that it thinks can be done better, so that when the bills are implemented, there will not be bigger hurdles. She had heard the Department’s plan to bring everyone to the same table, where they would work together. Are the other departments talking to what the DWYPD has now in its presentation?
Ms Newhoudt-Druchen wanted to make a note to the meeting host to enable the pinning function, because she needed to pin the SASL interpreter.
Responses by the Department of Women, Youth & Persons with Disabilities
Ms Maluleke responded to questions. She said that the National Council on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide “is my nightmare”. With the NSP on GBV and Femicide, the DoJ&CD is supposed to develop legislation for the establishment of the National Council. On 20 December 2019, a Cabinet Committee recommended to Cabinet that the DWYPD should not develop legislation at that time, and it should follow the South African National Aids Council (SANAC) format, to establish a council in the format of SANAC. On 11 March 2020, Cabinet made that decision that the DWYPD should follow SANAC. When DDG Tshabalala was presenting, she referred to the Declaration, which is the base of the NSP. In the Declaration signed by the President, it was stated that the Council should be a statutory council, and not one that is similar to SANAC. When Cabinet said that the Department must follow SANAC, civil society organisations were not happy. There were media interviews, the organisations tried to call the Department, and the Department tried to negotiate, but the organisations refused. Even though the Department had already started the process of registering a trust, now it has waited. It cannot proceed at the rate at which civil society is unhappy, because the aim is that the Council should have both government departments and civil society organisations. If civil society is not happy, then the Department cannot proceed with the Council. Another thing that is a challenge is that the Department’s PC is not happy that the NSP and the Declaration provides that it should be 51% civil society organisations, and 49% government. Currently, the Department is not proceeding with the registration of trust, because it will be pointless and counterproductive if it registers that trust [unclear 5:20:21] civil society is supposed to be part of that. Civil society is saying that it is not going to be part of that. As a result, the Department has now taken it upon itself to find someone (Ms Maluleke clarified that the Department had appointed someone) who will start the process of legislation. However, the PC knows that legislation does not take two weeks or two months. It might take a year or even three years. She could not talk about the timing of the establishment of the trust, with the challenges that the Department has now. Civil society said that it did not want a trust or a Secretariat that is linked to the government. It wants a body that is independent from the government.
The budget is one of the biggest problems for the DWYPD. The DWYPD has a huge mandate. It seems as if it is “structured to fail”, because people are overworked, and funding is a problem. Although the Department had managed SANAC, SANAC receives about R48 million from the National Treasury. The Department was given R5 million for the establishment of the trust. Since the Department has not been able to establish the trust, it has been engaging with the DG of National Treasury, and of the DPSA to look at what other alternative mechanisms it can come up with. Meanwhile, it is busy with legislation, because it is not sure when legislation will come into operation.
On terminology, and its views on the three Bills: The Department can say that it is happy with the fact that women can make an application telephonically or electronically, but everyone has the responsibility to report sexual offences and domestic violence. So many departments are now given responsibility in terms of the Act. Previously, the Department of Health and others did not have responsibilities in terms of the Domestic Violence Act. On the Sexual Offences Act, the Department is happy with how gang rape is dealt with. The courts had previously decided that even if there is gang rape, and only one person had been found, then only that one person will be dealt with, and it will be like a “normal” rape case. For Ms Maluleke, the challenge is the issue of attrition. What does it mean when South Africa says that it has an 85% conviction rate? When one looks at the extent of rape in South Africa, there are people who are not reporting, but also, for example, if 1 000 people had reported being raped, the time when those matters are being prosecuted and convicted, is 100 or less. When one says an 85% conviction rate, what is it in relation to? “Why are we ignoring the attrition rate?” If South Africa can address attrition, then it is able to deal with rape. Now, if only 100 cases ended up in court, and 85% of that was convicted, then that means that South Africa is dealing with 8% of rape cases. If people know that they have an 8% chance of being convicted, rather than a 99.999% chance, then people will always commit crime, because they know that they have a 92% chance of escaping. It is not just about what happens in the DoJ&CD, but from the police, one needs to look at how to address that attrition. She handed over to DDG Tshabalala to speak to the balance of the issues.
DDG Tshabalala talked about the work the Department is doing to strengthen implementation other than just weekly reports. The Department has made it a point that every DG and Minister takes responsibility in line with pillar one of the NSP, which is accountability. Departments’ annual performance plans need to be aligned to the NSP. In addition to that, the Department facilitated a process where it requested departments to reprioritise within their own baselines, and ensure that they resource the implementation of the NSP, in line with their core business. This M&E plan that the Department has developed has been shared with other departments, and the Department worked with them to agree on those key deliverables that they can own up to, so the Department is in a position to report. The Department is seeing a gradual take-off in this regard in terms of reporting, but the DG made sure that the Department has it as a standing agenda item at all of the four clusters. It is taking its toll on the Department, but it yields the desired results, in the sense that almost every week, or every second week, the Department is working with a cluster.The social cluster, the criminal justice cluster, and presentations have made progress against the implementation of the NSP. The Department makes pleas, talks to DGs, shares compliance reports to indicate how departments are faring in this regard, and it is beginning to get a much more positive response. The area that the Department still has to work hard in is the economic cluster. It has managed to tease out indicators that can be better simplified and shared with that cluster, and the cluster is working on those indicators. The Department requested that now that the DGs are busy with their own strategic planning sessions, that the Department be invited to departments that seem to be struggling. The Department will take those departments through the process, as a way of joining hands, walking this path with them, and making sure that these issues are brought to the fore in terms of implementation. That is how far the Department has gone with providing strategic guidance, leadership, or technical support that is required by the departments in translating the NSP into practice. This includes the business sector; the Department is working with the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) and civil society organisations. It is gradually getting there in making sure that eventually, the Department is shaping up in the area of implementation for the NSP.
The Chairperson had two questions. If Cabinet takes a decision that the Department is not going to have a statutory body; it is going to have a SANAC-type of organisation but the Department was developing legislation. The Department’s Minister is a Member of Cabinet, and Cabinet has taken a decision that it did not want a statutory body. What is the basis of the Department developing legislation? Who is the sponsor? A Bill can either be sponsored by a Cabinet Minister, a PC can initiate a Bill, or a Member of Parliament can initiate a private Bill. Who is the sponsor, if Cabinet said that there is no need for a Bill? On the Declaration: The Declaration includes members of government and civil society. The President has signed the Declaration as the Head of State and Head of Government. Cabinet has taken a decision that it does not want legislation. The President chairs Cabinet. Can the Department clarify that?
Ms Maluleke said that the Cabinet Committee, on 10 December 2019, said that GBV is a serious problem in South Africa. Women are dying, so legislation would take too long. In order for the Department to implement the resolutions of the NSP, the Department needs to follow the SANAC rules. On 11 March 2020, Cabinet said to implement the SANAC rules; legislation will be pursued later. However, now the Department realises that it is a challenge. National Treasury said that the Department cannot register a trust; it will not fund that. DPSA (Department of Public Service and Administration) says that it cannot do that. The Department is stuck in terms of how it implements Cabinet’s decision. Since the Department realised that the process is taking long, it had a meeting with National Treasury to ask it to come up with an alternative, since Treasury cannot assist the Department. The Department also asked for an opinion from the State Law Adviser. The State Law Adviser said that for this type of matter, the Department needs legislation that will outline the powers, responsibilities etc. of all the people who are involved, especially if government is going to fund that. Regarding the trust, the trust is owned by the trustees; one cannot tell them what to do or what not to do. In the meantime, the Department thought that it needs to go back to Cabinet to say that the decision has got challenges, but while Cabinet is looking for alternatives, the end product would have to be a statutory body. That is what is in the NSP, and that is what the President had signed in the NSP. The Department was supposed to have returned the Cabinet memo last week to say to Cabinet that the decision has got many challenges, so that Cabinet can take another decision, which would allow the Department to proceed with the legislation. That would be the resolution to all of the challenges that the Department is facing now.
The Chairperson said that it is a difficult one. Trustees would manage the trust, but the trust belongs to the beneficiaries; who are the beneficiaries?
Ms Maluleke replied that the beneficiaries are South Africans.
The Chairperson said that it is an interesting discussion. He thought that the PC on the DWYPD was having this discussion. The PC on the DoJ&CD does not want to venture into that area in detail. The PC is limited to GBV. He thanked Ms Maluleke for the clarification. He then had a suggestion for the PC Members: He suggested taking the Department of Health’s presentation before the South African Police Service, the reason being that there is a letter of complaint from the Eastern Cape. The PC is fortunate in that the NPA, Department of Health, and Parliamentary Liaison Office are present; those parties would be in a position to take that complaint forward as speedily as possible. He thought that it would be important to address this matter before the NPA leaves because the PC wants to be responsive to issues that come before the PC, especially issues that affect South Africans in a highly emotive way. This letter deals with a death of a partner in a domestic violence case that has not been attended to.
Adv Breytenbach agreed.
NDOH Presentation to the Parliamentary Justice Committee (Department of Health)
Ms Valerie Rennie, DDG: Corporate Services, Department of Health (DoH), introduced the presentation. She apologised for the DG’s absence; the DG was not well. The Department had heard the concerns that the PC had raised in the morning, and it had noted the concerns of late submission of the presentation. The Department assured the PC that that would not be repeated. The delegation included: Mr Joe Kgatla, Parliamentary Liaison Officer; Adv Lufuno Makhoshi, Corporate Services; Dr Eva Mulutsi, Director: Mental Health and Substance Abuse; and Ms Tshepiso Chabapala, Manager: Gender Focal Point,.
Ms Rennie apologised that the presentation focused mainly on the legal side of the review and inputs on the bills. The Department had not addressed the matters which the Committee had been deliberating on the whole day. DoH had learned lessons from the other departments. It had not addressed the issues related to financial implications, and commits, should the Committee allow, to submit the additional information required.
Adv Lufuno Makhoshi, Legal Services, DoH, presented. The headings are listed below.
Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill
(See the presentation for the full details.)
Adv Makhoshi added that because of the further information that is requested from the Department on the NRSO, relating to the historical data, it therefore becomes difficult for the DoH to comply, because the information that is required in terms of section 42 is not there on the documents or court order. The court order is very limited.
Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill, 2020
(See the presentation for the full details.)
Domestic Violence Amendment Bill, 2020
(See the presentation for the full details.)
The Chairperson said that Members would decide what to do. But he had serious difficulties with the approach that the DoH is taking. Firstly, his little understanding of government is that a Bill is a proposal of Cabinet to Parliament. In that Cabinet, the Minister of the DoH says (what he needs to say) as a Member of that Cabinet. It becomes unfair if matters that are not ventilated are brought to the PC as a lobby for what has been approved by Cabinet, the Committee where the DoH Minister and Deputy Minister serve, and the DG serves in a Committee that recommends bills before they go to the Sub-Committee, and then to Cabinet. The problems about the Bill that are being raised should have served before all those structures, up to the level of Cabinet. The question that the PC is asking departments now is: “What is your state of readiness based on the Bill that Cabinet has presented to us?” The PC is not saying that it will not look at these issues that the DoH is raising, but it is the wrong way of doing things, because it amounts to “forum shopping”. The DoH went to Cabinet, and was probably defeated, then comes and lobbies the PC for issues that it should have ventilated elsewhere. Those issues bind the DoH Minister. For the purposes of proper governance, it is wrong. There might be issues that need to be looked at, but that is not what the PC is expecting.
Adv Makhoshi said that the Chairperson’s point was well-taken. On that note, he requested Dr Eva Mulutsi (whom he said was responsible for forensic medicine) to assist the PC on some of the issues that the Department is dealing with regarding implementing these bills. He said that Dr Mulutsi’s part consisted of content that was not in the presentation slides.
The Chairperson asked if the issues that Dr Mulutsi would raise have been raised with the DoJ&CD and other departments involved in the formulation of the Bill. “We don’t want lone rangers here; we want a collective input by government. If people are not going to attend meetings where these issues should have been processed, and think that they are going to serve those matters before us [the PC], it is even worse that these presentations were given to use very late. In all respect, we are being ambushed”. Have these matters been served before the Committee that was developing these bills, which includes various departments such as the DoJ&CD? Did the DoH ventilate these matters that Dr Mulutsi would be raising today?
Adv Makhoshi said that the issue of the historical data was raised with the DoJ&CD, and there was an indication that this issue would be brought back to Cabinet.
The Chairperson said that he was not talking about bilaterals. The PC’s understanding is that the departments that have been identified in the Bill [unclear which Bill] have been working together throughout to develop this Bill, to discuss all matters related to this Bill. It is not bilateral, i.e. between one department and the DoJ&CD. Has the DoH raised these matters with all of the departments that are supposed to be part of this Bill (i.e. the departments that were presenting in the meeting)?
Adv Makhoshi said that he was only aware of the fact that it was raised with the DoJ&CD. He was not aware of if it was raised in other forums and in other committees.
Presentation by the DoH, continued
Dr Eva Mulutsi, Director: Mental Health and Substance Abuse, DoH, made additional remarks. She said that the DoH is serving in the interdepartmental forum on child justice, which is led by the DoJ&CD, and also the SAPS, Legal Aid South Africa, and the Department of Correctional Services (DCS). That is where the Department raised that matter at the beginning, because that forum was running parallel to the forum on sexual offences. The main issue that the DoH raised was that the court order is limited on the information that the DG is expected to submit in terms of the legislation. There have been engagements to the extent that there was an exploration as to whether the SAPS could help to identify patients (who had committed offences). The DoH has a database which captures the details of all state patients who have committed all other offences, including sexual offences. The difficulty is that out of that database, for those that committed sexual offences, there is no indication on their identification, such as their identity numbers, from the court order, and who the victim is, whether it was a child, or another mentally ill person. That is why the Department had difficulty with complying with the mandate, because it could submit the list of all the state patients that committed sexual offences. But it would not be confirmed as to whether it is in line with those that are contemplated in the legislation. That matter was raised, and there was a decision made at that forum that the matter will then be raised through Cabinet to explore the possibility of amending the section on the DoH submitting historical data.
On all other issues that the Department is doing around persons who have been dealt with in terms of section 77 subsection 78 of the Criminal Procedures Act, who have been referred to as state patients in the Mental Healthcare Act, there are several initiatives and interventions that are put in place to ensure that state patients are fully rehabilitated, and that they do not reoffend in sexual offences upon their release. The legislative mandate on the rehabilitation, care, and treatment programmes for this cohort of state patients is indicated in the Mental Healthcare Act, which provides, starting with the designation of specific psychiatric hospitals that have the capacity to contain people and for the security requirements of the state patients, that has the capacity in human resources necessary to put in place effective rehabilitation programmes that are in line with the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, Amendment Bill. Another intervention (indicated in the Mental Healthcare Act) is around the periodical review of the mental health status of the state patients. Every six months, there are periodic review reports that are compiled by the clinical teams in hospitals, and submitted directly to the DG of the DoH to oversee the efficiency of rehabilitation programmes. Every 12 months, there should be a report, following the reports every six months. From there, that is when the Department will approach the courts to apply for release of these patients to ensure public safety against this cohort of patients.
The Department has an internal information management system, where all new state patients are captured, all of their movements are captured, and that is how the Department monitors that South Africans are protected against offences of this nature by this cohort of state patients.
The Chairperson replied that Members have noted the presentation and the issues that the DoH raised. Some of these issues will be ventilated when the PC gets responses from the Department and when it does a clause-by-clause review of the three bills. He said that there was a request from Members that they needed to recharge their electronic devices. There would be a five-minute break. After the DoH, the PC would hear from the SAPS. He was unsure if there would be a presentation from the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT). The issue was whether the PC should finish with the DoH, and then take a five-minute break before going to the SAPS, or whether it should break now.
Ms Mofokeng asked if the PC could finish with the DoH. Ms Newhoudt-Druchen agreed with Ms Mofokeng.
Ms Newhoudt-Druchen asked if the forensic laboratories fall under the DoH. If the laboratories do fall under the DoH, then she wanted to know about the challenges by the DoH with regard to the forensic laboratories. She was not sure if she read it somewhere, or if it was in the public hearings; there was a backlog in the testing of DNA, etc. from the forensic laboratories before cases can come in front of court. She wanted to make sure that the laboratories are indeed under the DoH, and what were the challenges with regard to the backlogs.
Ms Mofokeng asked about the DoH’s relationship with the police in terms of DNA testing, especially on rape victims. One will find that the police do not have enough rape kits. There is also the issue of the DoH’s communication going to the District Surgeon. She was glad to see that Lieutenant General Motlhala, from the forensic laboratories, was in the meeting. The PC should know, in terms of implementation and the challenges that are there now, what is that the DoH will do going forward?
Responses by the Department of Health
Ms Rennie responded to questions. She confirmed that the forensic labs are with the DoH. She wanted to clarify in response to a question in the chat box: At one stage, the forensic labs were with SAPS. The labs were taken over by the DoH. She suggested that Dr Mulutsi elaborate on the challenges that the DoH was experiencing, including those with the backlog.
Ms Mofokeng said that the DoH’s response brought more confusion. If it said that the labs were not with SAPS anymore, and the PC knows that SAPS also has a forensic lab, then the Department needs to clarify itself. There is confusion; it is a serious one, especially for those people who would expect that the DoH and SAPS have been working together in making sure that when South Africa deals with GBV, implementation will be done properly. But in this forum, one would find that there are peers who answered, and then there is the Department answering.
The Chairperson said that he was out of the meeting for a minute and asked if the Department answered the questions that were asked.
Ms Mofokeng replied that the original question was asked by Ms Newhoudt-Druchen, and she extended the question by saying that the PC knows that SAPS was having challenges with rape kits, and that SAPS also goes to the DoH, because that is when the DoH deals with the forensic work. She wanted to know about the relationship between the two; how do they work, and who is responsible? There were conflicting answers in the chat box.
Ms Rennie said that in the DoH nationally, it has forensic labs in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town. Those labs are still within the DoH. On the backlog: She was aware of that issue, and it is in the DoH’s annual report, and within its budget. She suggested that SAPS could explain the relationship, because the next question was on the relationship between the DoH and SAPS. The function of the forensic labs is within the DoH.
Lt Gen Michael Motlhala, Acting Divisional Commissioner: Forensic Services, SAPS, offered clarification on the labs that are with SAPS. SAPS has forensic science laboratories. Those labs are dealing mainly with scientific analysis, chemistry (e.g. drugs), and also DNA. It also deals with ballistics and biological reports. There is a link between some of the reports that are supposed to be processed by the DoH, such as toxicology reports and blood testing results, for which the SAPS depends on the DoH for processing.
Ms Mofokeng asked if the PC could leave this matter to be ventilated later, because the SAPS and the DoH would need to meet up. If the DoH talking about having DNA, but can send certain things to SAPS, then somebody is not reporting something correctly. The PC needs to know how the trail of the rape kits moves, for example, when somebody would need to go to the DoH. That movement must be explained, because as a Member of Parliament, she is a public representative, and if she does not understand how the DoH moves with this whole thing, how will she be able to explain that to people? At some stage, the PC needs clarification, and the roles must be made very clear. “That’s why there is confusion all the time in whatever we are doing with implementation”. There can be good work that is being done by SAPS and the DoH, but somewhere the systems are not talking to each other.
Ms Newhoudt-Druchen said that what was not explained was the reason for the backlog. What is causing the backlog? The reason she was asking is if women or children are raped, sexually molested, sexually assaulted, etc. and is there is evidence, or not enough evidence to go through court that says there is a backlog at the lab, and there is no evidence, or not enough evidence, then she needed to understand why there is a backlog, and where the backlog is. If that cannot be answered now, then maybe that can be done in writing.
The Chairperson suggested that the Members park this matter. The PC would need SAPS and the DoH, the PC on Police, and the PC on Health to look at how to deal with this particular issue. If possible, the PC would want to have the ministers in that particular meeting, because the PC is trying to unblock blockages in the system, so that the system can flow properly. Could the PC isolate that as an issue that needs the PC’s attention urgently, as part of its ongoing oversight? This issue needs the PC to collaborate with other portfolio committees who have jurisdiction over this matter.
Adv Breytenbach suggested that the PC takes a real-life tour of a forensic laboratory, so that the PC understands what it is talking about before it has the meeting. It is a very different environment than what the PC is used to, and it would have a much better understanding of the problems and solutions if it actually sees a laboratory.
Ms Mofokeng agreed with Adv Breytenbach’s suggestion.
The Chairperson said to put the visit on the Committee programme.
Ms Mofokeng said that the PC “should not limit the police when they do their investigations, because the Head of Forensics is here”. That was her request for when SAPS presented.
The Chairperson asked her to repeat what she said. Ms Mofokeng said that because the SAPS is here, and the Head of Forensics is here, the PC should not limit SAPS, it must be allowed to present if it has a report on the forensics unit.
The Chairperson said that the SAPS was going to present everything, and its time was not limited; it was just one person responding to a specific issue.
Ms Maseko-Jele commented on the PC having to go and conduct an oversight visit to a laboratory. It also has to decide on the timeframe. After the visit, the PC still has to get those departments into a meeting, and it would be a fruitless exercise if happens after the PC’s discussions of the three bills. That has to be taken into consideration when it concludes on this matter as a PC.
The Chairperson suggested discussing the visit outside of the meeting, because the PC also knows that it has a programme that is “upside down”. He suggested having a full discussion on the logistics and the approach outside of the meeting.
Ms Maskeo-Jele agreed to that.
The Chairperson said that the PC received a complaint, which was circulated to Members. The PC would want it to be attended to by the DoH and NPA. The Committee Secretariat would be able to give both parties the letter with the details. It is case no. 381/02/2019, and is a femicide and GBV murder case. The victim is Busisiwe Ngwadla, who was killed by her boyfriend. The problem is that the NPA, due to capacity constraints within the DoH, the observation will only commence once Fort England gives direction. Currently Fort England does not give that direction. The request is that other hospitals within the Eastern Cape can be asked to do that, because the case has been outstanding since 26 February 2019, and the family is concerned. The PC would not want to go into the operational issues of how the NPA must do its work, but it wants to formally bring this to the NPA’s attention. The letters will be given to both Adv Smith (NPA) and the DoH, so that they can look at the issue and expedite it.
Adv Smith said that he is fine with that, and that he will await the feedback from the Committee.
Ms Rennie said that the Department acknowledged the complaint, and has taken note of it. It will wait for the letter, and in the interim, it will communicate with the Eastern Cape Health Department.
The Chairperson asked the Committee Secretary to send the letter to Adv Smith and the DoH at that moment, so that the matter could be attended to. He said that Ms Mofokeng had introduced a good concept of timeframes. In two weeks’ time, the NPA and the DoH should have met, and should send to the Committee in writing what the course of action will be.
Adv Smith said that was in order with him, and he noted that.
Ms Rennie said that the Department would do that.
South African Police Service (SAPS): State of Readiness to Implement the Gender Based Violence Bills
Brigr Marga van Rooyen, Legal and Policy Services, SAPS, presented. The delegation included: Lt Gen Moeketsi Sempe, Divisional Commissioner: Visible Policing, SAPS; Lt Gen Michael Motlhala, Acting Divisional Commissioner: Forensic Services, SAPS; Lt Gen Tebello Mosikili, Deputy National Head: Priority Crime Investigation, SAPS; and Maj Gen Bafana Linda, National Head: Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit.
The presentation had the following headings:
• Domestic Violence Amendment Bill:
• Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act Amendment Bill; and
• Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill.
Domestic Violence Amendment Act
• The National Instruction on Domestic Violence will be revised to ensure that the internal directives issued by the National Commissioner complies with the amended legislation to ensure that members comply with the Act in the execution of their functions.
• In terms of section 18(3) of the Domestic Violence Act, the National Instruction must be published in the Gazette and must be submitted to Parliament (section 18(5)(b)).
• The process to amend the National Instruction can only commence once the legislation has been finalised in Parliament and the subordinate legislation has been approved to ensure that the SAPS is able to identify the nature and extent of the powers and responsibilities of police officials and the impact on policing.
• Expand the categories of domestic violence to include “coercive behaviour”, “controlling behaviour”, “spiritual abuse” and “sexual harassment”;
• Amends definitions of certain categories of domestic violence, including emotional, verbal or psychological abuse by removing the requirement that insults, etc. must be repeatedly made (single incident will not constitute domestic violence);
• Inserts definition of a “related person” to include “any member of the family or household of a complainant or any other person in a close relationship with the complainant”.
• All relevant training manuals of the SAPS will have to be revised in view to ensure that the material reflects the amendments to the legislative framework.
• This includes training manuals relating to the basic training of recruits, as well as in-service training of police officials.
• The presentation of training to police officials will be required to ensure that members are aware of the amendments and understand the implications thereof and how that affects the performance of their functions.
• The process to revise the training material will be done concurrently with the revision of the National Instruction once the legislation (including the Regulations) have been finalised.
• Awareness must be raised on the implications of the amendments to the legislation by means of community police forum meetings, other public engagements, internal communications, etc.
• This will be pertinent in view of, inter alia, the following proposed provisions:
• the obligation placed on the public to report domestic violence incidents and the implications of the obligation; and
• the process to apply for a protection order online.
• The proposed provision on arrest (clause 4) will require the allocation of additional resources to deal with the increased number of persons in detention in police cells until their first appearance in court, especially on weekends and long weekends (considering that the reporting of domestic violence increases during these time periods).
Serving of Protection Orders
• The extension of the ambit of domestic violence to include additional categories (such as coercive and controlling behaviour and spiritual abuse), will increase the number of protection orders that are issued.
• Protection orders may, in terms of the Act, be served by the clerk of the court, a sheriff or a peace officer.
• A substantial number of protection orders are currently served by police officials.
• The expansion of the ambit of the Act will increase the responsibility of police official to serve such orders.
• The SAPS welcomes the establishment of an integrated electronic repository for protection orders and believes the repository will enhance the protection of complainants.
• Although the details and processes relating to the repository will be addressed in regulations, it is envisaged that access thereof will require interfacing of electronic systems between different departments (including the SAPS).
• This will have financial implications and will require sufficient time to ensure the development and establishment of the repository and the accessibility of the SAPS to the information contained on the repository.
Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act Amendment Bill
Creation of New Offences
• The creation of new offences will require the amendment of internal policies, directives and relevant training manuals.
• Internal communications will be distributed to ensure that members are aware of the new offences and able to address complaints reported to the SAPS in respect thereof.
• Public awareness will be required to inform the community accordingly.
National Register for Sex Offenders (NRSO)
• The expansion of the ambit of the National Register for Sex Offenders to include particulars of all persons convicted of the commission of any sexual offence is welcomed and supported.
• The expansion of the ambit will result in the need for additional resources to comply with other legislatives provisions:
• In terms of section 36D(2) of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (Act No. 51 of 1977), a buccal sample must be taken of a person whose name appears on the Register and must be stored and maintained by the SAPS.
• Furthermore, section 15A(2) of the South African Police Service Act, 1995 (Act No. 68 of 1995) provides that the National Commissioner must ensure that fingerprints and photographic images are taken of persons whose names must be included in the Register.
Role of the Criminal Record Centre
• During the public hearings, submissions were made relating to the possible transferral of the Register to the Criminal Record Centre of the SAPS.
• Although this proposal was not contained in the Bill and has not been considered accordingly, it is important to note some preliminary factors that should be considered relating such a proposal:
• System development of the Criminal Record Centre and enhancement will be required to record, maintain and administer such information;
• the existing database of criminal records will have to be synchronised with the Register, including the transfer of all electronic information;
• Standard Operating Procedure will be required to accommodate enquiries relating to entries into the Register to enable a search functionality, specifically aimed at identifying sexual offences (and not all criminal convictions of a person);
• adequate measured must be developed and implemented to comply with the requirements pertaining to confidentiality;
• the transfer will have to be tried and tested to ensure that the information is correct and reliable;
additional human and physical resources will be required to perform the additional functions effectively and efficiently; and
• In addition, awareness and change management training and awareness programmes will be required to internal and external clients.
Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill
Implications of the Bill on the SAPS
• The SAPS welcomes the clarify on and expansion of the definition.
• The expansion of “assault, when a dangerous wound is inflicted” will require the amendment of internal policies, directives and relevant training manuals relating to the power and procedures regarding arrest.
• The prohibition on the release of a person on police bail where the matter relates to an offence involving domestic violence is also supported.
• As indicated, this will, however, require that the arrested person remains in police custody until his or her first appearance in court.
• The SAPS also welcomes the requirement that an arrested person must disclose any protection order issued against him or her during a bail application.
Mr Horn asked about the development or the amendments to the National Instruction. If he understood the presentation correctly, ordinarily the SAPS will only embark on that process once the Bill has become a law and the regulations have been finalised. From the PC’s side, it must enquire whether any groundwork can be done, or any preparatory work, in respect of such a National Instruction, given the urgency behind the legislation and hopefully the implementation. The PC heard from the DoJ&CD that yes, regulations will be needed. “We hope that it will take longer than the normal one to two years to happen”, and in the same vein, the PC must enquire whether SAPS would consider starting with the development of the amendments to the National Instruction, pending the finalisation of regulations at least, once the Bill becomes a law. Regarding the training manual: He hoped that the SAPS have taken note of is that something the PC has learned, especially in dealing with public participation on these bills, is that there is a perception that the SAPS does not always totally embrace its duties under the legislation when it comes to domestic violence and GBV. It is an opportunity, when one talks about training manuals for new recruits, and ongoing training, to address that. He wanted to enquire whether, through the SAPS’ involvement in the development of the legislation, and attending the public participation processes, it had taken something away from there to strengthen the resolve of the SAPS to not shy away from dealing with these issues by mediation, etc.
The Chairperson said that with respect to Mr Horn’s first question, that might be an indication of his support of that area of the Bill, which is why he says that SAPS must start working on the regulations. The DA will be supporting that area.
Mr Horn said that he did not fully understand the Chairperson’s comment fully.
The Chairperson said that with respect to Mr Horn’s first comment, that SAPS must start working on the draft regulations, it might be an indication of Mr Horn’s support of that particular area of the Bill.
Mr Horn laughed and clarified that he did not say that SAPS must start working on the draft regulations; he said that SAPS should consider working on the National Instruction. But what the Chairperson could take away is that the PC is not in the business to frustrate the speedy processing of all of this, given the second pandemic, as it has been called.
Ms Mofokeng joined the Chairperson in commending the SAPS on the quality of its presentation. She commended the SAPS for looking at a revised training manual. The PC has been saying that the training for the police, the prosecutors, and the magistrates that deals specifically with these matters (GBV) “must be something that we do”. On protection orders: Now that there are challenges at the moment, that even if an interim protection order is given, there is a problem of delivering it. What is it that the SAPS is going to do, because she did not hear the SAPS say what its plans are on that. If there are plans, perhaps the SAPS should tell the PC. On the domestic violence register that is in police stations, is the SAPS still using it? If the register is in police stations, what is the role of it, because it has never been used. If there are plans for it, the SAPS must tell the PC. The last slide said that an arrested person must disclose any protection order. Why does the SAPS not have a system that will help with centralised orders so that it can see any other person who had a protection order before; maybe it can also help with investigations in future.
The Chairperson thought that the SAPS does support a centralised system, but the SAPS would answer for themselves.
Ms Newhoudt-Druchen also commended the presentation. People are still not happy about the interaction between SAPS and victims. She received an SMS from her constituency office this afternoon (Friday, 6 November 2020) about the interaction with the police and the victims. Her office feels that the police need support or guidance on how to interact with victims. She asked for an example, and the example was: A victim goes to the police station; they have just been raped. The police ask the victim, “Will you be able to identify the perpetrator?”. The victim says, “No, I will not be able to do that”. The investigating officer then said that there is no case. That kind of response already demotivates the victim. “It is just appalling” and these kinds of interactions will likely reduce reporting by victims. Will SAPS give training to the officials on how they should interact with people, or get in-depth training on how to handle GBV cases, and on how to communicate with the GBV survivors in a more appropriate way?
Ms Maseko-Jele thanked the SAPS for its presentation. She asked about the matter of starting now to develop legislation. She heard from the presenter that SAPS would have to wait for the Bill to be passed. But those that are internal need to be dealt with. She supported starting such a process early. On the issue of entry points: She wanted to link that point to the training manual. In the training manual, issues of attitude of the police in welcoming the victims as they come in – is that included? She acknowledged that attitude also goes with an individual. But as part of training (it needs to be included). There was also the issue of employing the services of psychologists on a continual basis. It cannot be that there have been reports of the behaviour of the SAPS when it comes to issues of GBV, that it was not welcoming to the community for so many years. “Then we believe that after these bills have been passed, everything will change just like that”. Something must be done, and it must be deliberate. There must be a concerted effort that the issue of the SAPS’ plan must include that, because it will be fruitless, after one has done such a big job in making sure that everyone is working together, and understands each other as to what needs to be done when these bills are law, and then one still finds people at the police station experiencing what Ms Newhoudt-Druchen mentioned.
Responses by the South African Police Service
Brig van Rooyen responded to questions. The development of national instructions will indeed start beforehand. However, SAPS must always be careful to wait to issue National Instructions until there is finality on the wording of the Act and the regulations. The last thing the SAPS wants is to spread confusion in a police service that deals with GBV. The biggest issue is not so much the issuing of the National Instructions or the amendment of the training material, but to physically present training to the police officials on the new legislation. It is a cumbersome operation, as one can imagine the number of police officials involved. The SAPS will prioritise the training courses pertaining to operational members first, i.e. the members who are more likely to deal with victims of GBV will be trained first on the implications of the legislation.
There was also the issue of the strengthening of the resolve of the police service to deal with GBV and specifically relating to matters of training. That is something the SAPS regards in a very serious light. As part of all of its training material on GBV, it deals with social context training. That really goes to the heart of domestic violence, because if a person understands the dynamics of domestic violence, then they also have a better idea of why victims appear to act in certain manner. For example, a police official may easily regard a woman who continuously comes to the police station as someone who does not want to have help. But once officials understand the social context, and the issue of power and control relating to the underlying fundamental principle of domestic violence, that helps to ensure that members are better equipped to deal with domestic violence. That is something that SAPS continuously reinforces in its training programmes. It is ongoing, and the SAPS is continuously trying, with the help of other role-players including the NPA, to improve on its training. The cooperation between the SAPS and the NPA, with the assistance of prosecutors, has been very helpful.
On protection orders, the interim orders, similar to the final protection orders are served in a number of instances by police officials. SAPS will deal with them similarly in the future as well. But it does sometimes create problems when the SAPS has limited resources, and it has to deal with other policing, or reports of crimes committed, and the police have to attend to those crimes, and also prioritise the serving of protection orders, and dealing with operational policing complaints.
Brigadier van Rooyen noted that protection orders will be issued in future in more circumstances, as a result of the expansion of the categories of domestic violence.
On the domestic violence register, that is an internal police register that is kept by every police station. It is currently regulated in the National Instruction. The register provides that every incident of domestic violence must be reported in that register. When the police receive a protection order, the details of that protection order are also included in the register. The register is the police’s internal register of complaints and reports made to the police of domestic violence.
On the disclosure of a protection order in bail applications, in that regard, the repository will be a valuable contribution to support and assist officials to verify whether the person (the accused) has a protection order issued against them or not. The repository was initially a proposal made by the police to strengthen the resolve of its response to GBV; therefore, the SAPS is full support of the register, and believes that it will assist it to a large extent. In the past, the SAPS has had numerous difficulties where the parties involved in a domestic relationship will obtain contradictory protection orders. For example, the wife will obtain a protection order that prevents the husband from entering the home. Then the husband will go to the court and obtain a protection order that prevents the wife from being allowed to enter the home. If one expects a police official to attend to that complaint, it is impossible to make a sound decision, because the protection orders are 100% contradictory with each other. Whatever the police official does in those circumstances, he or she will also be 50% wrong. For that reason, the SAPS requested the DoJ&CD to draft provisions pertaining to the establishment of a repository to assist with clarity on existing protection orders, and to ensure that the SAPS is able to assist victims of domestic violence in a better manner.
Ms Newhoudt-Druchen pointed out that victims are unhappy with the police service. In that regard, it is important to raise the fact that the police deals with a number of NGOs, other service providers, and volunteers to assist police officials with assisting victims; specifically, because they are trained in dealing with victims of domestic violence in a way that is professional, and are equipped with the necessary skills. That is something that the police can improve in future. The NGOs and volunteers assist members of the police service. It also has training material and National Instructions dealing with victim empowerment to provide measures to assist police officials on how to deal with a victim of domestic violence, and to assist in the empowerment of victims. Training will also play a role in this regard. SAPS welcomes the assistance of and the expansion of the responsibility of the DoH and DSD, because those two departments can also assist to a great extent support the SAPS in rendering proper assistance to victims of domestic violence. The fight against GBV can only be won if all Government departments pull together and improve services to assist victims. If all the departments can, in a coordinated way, address GBV, Brigadier van Rooyen had no doubt that departments can make a substantial impact in the lives of many victims.
There were questions on internal training, and the attitude of police is something that can always be improved. Social context training is part of every police training programme on GBV, and it is something that the SAPS continuously repeats and reinforces. FCS (family violence, child protection and sexual offences) units have been established, and their members are specially trained to deal with victims of family violence, child protection and sexual offences. That is a specialised unit that received additional training in that regard.
The Chairperson asked if there were any further questions.
Ms Mofokeng wanted to ask if the SAPS was having challenges with the victim empowerment centres in police stations. Looking at what is coming now with this new legislation, it will mean a lot of work. With the rape kits that were a problem at some stage, does the SAPS have enough budget to deal with that? One of the police officers that was doing a good job when the PC raises issues is Major General Linda. He was in the meeting. His case was also the same as the magistrate mentioned that morning; he makes an effort to make sure that things are happening. Last night, he arrested somebody at the border of Lesotho who was running from GBV matters. She thought that it was proper that the PC commend Maj. Gen. Linda for his good work.
The Chairperson asked if the PC could see Maj. Gen. Linda.
Ms Mofokeng again noted that Maj. Gen. Linda was in the meeting, and said that the PC would like to see him.
Lt Gen Tebello Mosikili, Deputy National Head: Priority Crime Investigation, SAPS, said that she was with Maj. Gen. Linda in the same room. Maj. Gen. Bafana Linda, National Head: Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit then introduced himself.
The Chairperson said that South Africa is proud to have people such as Maj. Gen. Linda and the other SAPS officials present. Such people are heroes, and the PC would be happy if people like them could be multiplied. It is not only kings and queens who make history, but also ordinary people who sacrifice their lives to ensure that all people feel protected. The Chairperson said that he was speaking on behalf of the PC and all its parties in saying that it is proud to have people like the SAPS members present. In the midst of challenges, people like those SAPS members lift the spirits; even when the PC is down, but it knows that there are always good men and women who are proud to be South Africans, who are proud to be Africans, and who are proud to be humans, and who would want to serve other human beings.
Maj. Gen. Linda spoke on behalf of Detective Services, and acknowledged the Chairperson’s comments on a documentary that appeared on the programme CheckPoint, whereby members of the same component he leads, which has placed the level of detection on successes and long-life sentences very high in terms of serial rapists, misrepresented the Unit in court. SAPS has taken note of that, and the matter is under investigation; the SAPS will submit a report to the PC within seven days.
The Chairperson said that with the Major General’s contribution, he put those who are misrepresenting people such as the Maj. Gen. to shame. The PC thinks that with people like him, decisive action that will not misrepresent the SAPS will follow. With the NPA, Adv Smith is in the meeting, and he will communicate the PC’s sentiments to the National Director. The PC will also be writing to the National Director to say that it wants action to be taken. To the SAPS members and to the magistrate, if the PC was eNCA, it would have a programme on the “hero of the week”. The SAPS members are the PC’s heroes, even in the midst of this pandemic. There was a Ghanaian writer, Ayi Kwei Armah, who was disillusioned by corruption in his own country, and he wrote that “the beautiful ones are not yet born”. The Chairperson thought that the writer would be proud to see that now there are beautiful ones who have been born.
Ms Newhoudt-Druchen wanted to add her thanks to Maj. Gen. Linda. She also thanked Brig. van Rooyen for the responses. She wanted to point out that although NGOs do not mind assisting, it should also be remembered that NGOs are under financial constraints themselves, and they struggle with their budgets. If a victim comes to SAPS to open a case, it should be done appropriately. If it is difficult in terms of communication, etc., then the NGOs can come and assist, because the PC also needs to take into consideration that that NGOs have financial constraints, and the people hired in the police station are hired to do a certain job, so they must not brush the responsibility off their shoulders and just say that the NGOs are there to do it.
Department of Communications and Digital Technologies
The Committee Secretary said that he was in communication with the Parliamentary Liaison Officer of the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT). This morning, the Department promised to send a presentation, only to find out this morning that it did not prepare a presentation, citing reasons that they were busy with other entities. There was a delegation from the Department. Ms Petronella Linders, Chief Director: Gender Equity, Disability Mainstreaming, Youth Development and Children’s Empowerment and Protection, was present. She would be answering any questions that Members would want to pose.
The Chairperson said that it might be unfair to Ms Linders to say anything, because she was sent to the PC without a presentation, which was a “serious sign of disrespect”. It suggests that the DCDT considers itself to be the busiest department, more so than all of the departments that came to the meeting. The DHET and the DBE are busy with examinations, but they prepared a presentation, and came to the meeting. The DoJ&CD was there; everyone was there and had prepared presentations. Out of serious disrespect to the PC, the PC is being asked to ask questions when the Department “has not bothered to make a presentation”. That is an insult to the PC, and there are no questions to be asked to Ms Linders. The Department has treated the PC with disrespect. The Chairperson suggested that the DG of the DCDT be summoned to appear before the PC to explain herself. He knew that the Minister would always want to cooperate with Parliament; he did not think that she knew about the behaviour of her Department towards the PC. If the Department was used to treating other committees that way, this is not any other Committee; it would not accept to be treated in that way. The PC would not be asking any questions; it would want the DG or Acting DG of the Department to come and appear before the PC, to explain to it to explain the disrespect shown towards the PC. He asked the Members if things could be left at that.
The Members agreed to leave it at that.
The Chairperson said that Ms Linders is released from the meeting.
The Chairperson thanked all of the departments who had worked very hard to ensure that they had presentations. These presentations would form part of the PC’s deliberations on the three GBV bills. The departments’ contributions were commendable. The departments had clarified a lot of issues that the PC was concerned about. The NGOs had been very active, even in the chat box, in raising issues, and the departments had been responding to them. To everyone that had spent the whole day with the PC, such as the viewers at home: The PC knows that this is a very serious matter. Those who had stayed had shown that they were allies of the South Africans (fighting against) these serious violations against women and children of the country. The PC is very grateful. It knows that domestic violence is very emotive to the entire PC. The PC is going to be working very hard, echoing the words of Mr Horn, that as the Committee, it will not impede anything that is going to ensure that there is a speedy processing of the bills, whilst ensuring that the PC passes quality Bills. It will put all its efforts into ensuring that it processes these bills as fast as possible. The departments have really helped the PC to ensure that it understands what it is passing, and it is really happy that the departments that have undertaken to take certain actions have made that commitment. The PC hoped that the departments would meet the timelines set by the PC, because people can only have confidence in South Africa’s democracy if that democracy materially changes their lives. Parliament is one of those institutions that must continuously strive to earn the confidence of the people by the manner in which it acts; becoming relevant to their lives; and ensuring that whatever it discusses, it's discussion advances the cause of all South Africans. That is how, he felt, we will ensure that we sustain our democracy. Having officials such as those present who have committed themselves, who work overnight to ensure that that is achieved is highly appreciated, and the PC wanted to thank those officials very much. The Chairperson also wanted to thank his colleagues for continuously putting South Africa first, and ensuring that they work very hard to ensure that Parliament serves its people.
The meeting was adjourned.