ATCC220630: Report of the Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings on the Hearing of the GBVF-Collective Petition Held on 02 December 2021, as adopted on 24 June 2022
REPORT OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON PETITIONS AND EXECUTIVE UNDERTAKINGS ON THE HEARING OF THE GBVF-COLLECTIVE PETITION HELD ON 02 DECEMBER 2021, AS ADOPTED ON 24 JUNE 2022
The Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings (Committee), having considered the Gender Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF)-Collective Petition, referred to the Committee by the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on 22 November 2021, for its consideration and resolution, reports as follows:
The petitioners, Ms Lee-Anne Germanos, co-founder of the Embrace Project, Ms Bronwyn Litkie, founder and Director of the South African Women Fight Back, and Ms Laura-Lee Gillion, Centre for Gender Studies. are calling for the assistance of the NCOP, regarding the alleged failure by the Presidency to respond to their petition.
- The government is falling to effectively implement the Presidency’s Emergency Response Action on gender-based violence and femicide;
- The UN Committee found the South African government to be in systematic and grave violation of Article 8 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. This is because of continuous failure by the government to take measures against it;
- On 6 March 2020, and 30 August 2021, respectively, the petitioners submitted the petition pertaining to gender-based violence and femicide to the Presidency; and
- The Presidency undertook to respond to the petition within seven working days and to date no formal response has been received on the matter.
The petitioners are requesting the NCOP to hold the Presidency accountable for alleged failure to respond to the submitted petition.
On 02 December 2021, the Committee held a hearing on the petition via a virtual platform where the petitioner and relevant stakeholders were invited. The purpose was to afford the petitioners and relevant stakeholders with an opportunity to make first-hand oral submissions in relation to the subject matter of the petition.
The following Committee Members were in attendance:
2.1 Hon Z Mkiva, ANC, Eastern Cape (Chairperson);
2.2 Hon E M Mthethwa, ANC, KwaZulu-Natal;
2.3 Hon K Motsamai, EFF, Gauteng; and
2.4 Hon Zandamela, EFF; Mpumalanga,
The following Committee officials were in attendance:
2.5 Mr N Mkhize, Committee Secretary;
2.6 Mr X Simelane; Committee Researcher/ Acting Content Advisor, and
2.7 Mrs N Fakier; Executive Secretary;
The following stakeholders appeared before the Committee:
2.8 Petitioners: Ms LA Germanos, Director-Embrace Project; Ms L Berger, Director-Embrace Project; Ms B Litkie, Director-South African Women Fight Back and Ms LL Gillion
- SUBMISSIONS BY THE PETITIONERS
The petitioners submitted that they have delivered two petitions to the Presidency pertaining to Gender Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) over the past two years, and neither petition resulted in a response from the Presidency despite undertakings to do so.
In the first petition handed over to the Presidency on 6 March 2020, they were asking for the fulfilment of 16 undertakings made by the President in September 2019.
The President’s address was distilled into these 16 promises by SA Women Fight Back as follows:
- To ensure that measurement and monitoring is in place and executed and that collated monthly updates are transparent to the nation.
- Speed up the intended progress on the delivery of the President’s promises and the outcomes of the draft Gender Based Violence and Femicide Strategic Plan. This is over a year overdue
- Review the laws that impact on the criminal prosecution of domestic violence and sexual offences perpetrators.
- Immediately and without fail set up the remaining 10 sexual offences courts as promised before the end of the financial year.
- Prioritise sexual offences register and the availability of this register to critical and interested bodies as a 3-month emergency project.
- Give the Justice Department a mandate to urgently review current sentencing conditions for sex offenders specifically pertaining to no bail and life without parole as an absolute priority.
- Revoke the bail of current awaiting trial accused sex offenders and murderers, who are currently also out on bail for any previous charge.
- Expedite and prioritise all current murder and sexual offences cases and review the cases (whether current or closed) lodged with IPID during the past 36 months.
- Review the current prisoners in the correctional services system separating known gang members, sex offenders and murderers from other criminals.
- Introduce a system of “Read and Report” where the prisoners’ monthly stipend is dependent on the number of books the prisoner has read as a reform tactic.
- All SAPS Station Commanders that have not set up an acceptable victim protection rooms or sufficient counselling partnerships for victims of domestic violence and GBV, and who have not implemented the Ministerial 6 Point Plan from 2015 must be held accountable.
- Reconfirm the mandate to all SAPS offices that may and should call on NGO’s for victim counselling training from station level.
- Hold to account those SAPS stations that are not dealing with domestic violence cases in the prescribed manner.
- Hold to account those officers of the court who are not fully advising victims of their rights when seeking a protection order.
- Implementation of a programme such as No Means No in all schools and colleges in SA to be implemented in the 2020 school year.
- Incentivise and call on all sporting bodies and mandate the Minister of Sports to implement GBV awareness drives and young people’s mentorship programmes and fund raisers throughout South Africa.
The second petition was handed over to the Presidency on 30 August 2021 calling out the government’s lack of political will to combat GBVF and asking the President to account for the rising rate of GBVF, poor implementation of legislation, and the Presidency’s Emergency Response Action Plan on GBVF (“ERAP”). The President was also asked to account for the Commission for Gender Equality’s report on ERAP released in April 2021, as well as the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination.
In conclusion, the petitioners recommended that the Committee consider the President to be the appropriate functionary to receive their petition. They pointed out that National policies aimed at responding to GBVF (ERAP and the National Strategic Plan on GBVF), as well as the GBVF Response Fund, all emanated from the Office of the Presidency and therefore fall within its mandate and core business.
Lastly, the petitioners requested the Committee to question the Presidency on the dereliction of its duty to acknowledge and respond to the South African public that it serves by:
- disregarding petitions handed over to it,
- ignoring any attempts to contact it, and
- disregarding the requests of a Chapter 9 institution (which has an oversight function), such as the Commission for Gender Equality.
They also proposed that the Committee requests the President to account for the South African government’s lack of political will to combat GBVF based on the content and detail contained in each of the two petitions handed over to it, as outlined in this presentation.
4. OBSERVATIONS AND KEY FINDINGS
The Committee made the following observations and key findings in relation to the various submissions made on the subject matter of the petition:
4.1 The petitioners submitted that various undertakings had not been fulfilled and government had not shown much effort in implementing those undertakings, despite the rising rate of GBVF cases.
4.2 The petitioners also described how their consistent efforts and appeals to the Presidency and the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities were not being responded.
4.3 Evaluation of the poor implementation and inadequate allocation of resources emanated from a report compiled by the Commission for Gender Equality.
4.4 Lastly, observed that the SAPS had shown a poor response to GBVF calls, and there was poor training on GBVF issues. Victim support rooms were non-existent in many police stations.
Following extensive deliberations on the submissions made during the hearing on the petition, the Committee recommends as follows:
5.1 The subject matter of the petition is to be referred to the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities for its exhaustive consideration and ultimate resolution.
5.2 In its consideration of the subject matter of the petition, the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities is to solicit the wisdom of other government departments and organisations that the subject matter of the petition has a bearing on, namely, the Department of Social Development(DSoD), SAPS and the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE).
- The Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, DSoD, SAPS and CGE are to establish an interdepartmental task team aimed at investigating and ultimately addressing the issues raised in the petition, including but not limited to the issues of working conditions and allocation of resources.
- The task team referred to in 5.3 above is to be established within 2 (two) months of the tabling of this report in the House and is to further ensure, that in the course, it consults extensively with the Office of President.
5.5 Further in its consideration of the subject matter of the petition, the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities is to take into consideration to review the current policy position on the issues of GBVF and propose an approach or response that is specific or peculiar to the country’s circumstances.
- The Office of the President to review and evaluate the effectiveness of the existing legislation applicable to the GBVF and look into the possibility of extending the application of the relevant legislation.
- The Office of the President to report to the House within six months of tabling this report on the outcomes of the process referred to in 5.6 above as well as propose a way forward in relation to the best legislative response or approach to the issue of GBVF for the country.
Report to be considered.