Firearms Control Bill; Banks Amendment Bill; Rape Statistics Report

Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


1 November 2000

Chairperson : Ms P Govender

Relevant Document:
Committee Report on Police Crime Statistics on Rape, 12/10/2000 (see Appendix 1)
Committee Report: ATC 03/11/00 (see Appendix 2)

In addressing requests by this committee to effect amendments (relevant to curbing violence against women), the National Assembly and NCOP Committees processing the Firearms Control Bill had dealt with all the issues except the change to Clause 9 of the Bill. The Committee decided to continue to lobby for this change.

The Committee issued a report calling on the Finance Ministry to ensure that its drafters draft all Finance Bills in a gender-sensitive manner in line with the Constitution. This was as a result of the gender-insensitive drafting of the Banks Amendment Bill.

The Committee discussed their police crime statistics on rape report that focuses on the way rape is defined and how to re-examine rape statistics and bring its calculation in line with international standards. They also discussed upcoming workshops and preparations for next year

Firearms Control Bill
The Deputy Chair, Ms M Themba, gave a report-back on the intervention by this Committee to effect changes to provisions in this Bill that would provide further protection for women and curb violence against women. The Bill was due to be debated in the NCOP chamber the following day. After numerous caucuses and study groups had been held, almost all the proposed amendments this Committee had been lobbying for had been accepted. The exception was Clause 9 of the Bill which outlines the competency criteria one has to satisfy in order to acquire a firearm licence. The provision making a person with a domestic violence protection order against him unable to obtain a competency certificate had been completely excluded. She emphasized the importance of this provision and explained that the Committee had obtained a legal opinion on the implications of this section and had discussed this opinion with the NCOP committee processing the Bill. Due to pressing deadlines [if the NCOP had introduced any amendments, the Bill would have to have gone back to the National Assembly which was about to go into recess], that Committee chose not to implement this amendment but rather to pass the following resolution:

Clause 9: Resolution
The regulations to be issued in terms of the provisions of this Bill should impose an obligation on the Registrar to give due consideration to the effect of the granting of a final protection order in terms of the Domestic Violence Act, 1998 (Act No. 116 of 1998), against a person who applies for a competency certificate, on the question whether he or she is a fit and proper person to possess a firearm, to trade in firearms, to manufacture firearms or to conduct business as a gunsmith, as the case may be. This obligation should relate to all final protection orders granted within a period of five years before receipt of the application for a competency certificate by the Designated Firearms Officer.

Professor Ngubane (IFP) referred to the clause which states that any person who ought to have known that someone else has an illegal firearm in his possession, will be prosecuted. She argued that this clause put women at risk of facing prosecution. Her explanation was that persons who possessed firearms illegally were most often males and the persons closest to them are usually their wives or mothers. She said that women were treated unfairly in this regard. The Chair responded that it was difficult to discuss clauses without having the specifics in front of them.

The Chair returned to the issue of the competency criteria in Clause 9 and instructed the Deputy Chair to discuss with the Chairperson of the NCOP the issue as to whether this issue should be dealt with in the Bill or as an amendment to the Domestic Violence Act. The Chair said that she could attempt to get legal opinion on this immediately and circulate the opinion the following day. The Chair asked the Committee if they regarded this issue important enough to be pursued. The members said that it was as it was connected to violence against women.

The Chair confirmed that it would be the Deputy Chair's responsibility to discuss the issue with the Chairperson of the NCOP. The issue would also have to be brought to the attention of the women's caucuses in the different parties and to the Chairperson of the Women's Caucus. The Chair wanted to ensure that the Registrar has no discretion and no space for maneuver. She reiterated that it was important that this be dealt with either as an amendment to the Domestic Violence Act or in this Bill. She stated that if it was not possible to resolve this issue, then it had to be done via the caucuses.

Banks Amendment Bill
The Chair reported on the unfolding of events with relation to the fact that the Bill was gender insensitive. The law advisors had responded that it could not be redrafted in a gender sensitive manner as this would require the original Act to be redrafted as well. The Chair had then obtained legal opinion which confirmed that it was possible to effect this and that the Constitution requires that all legislation be drafted in a gender sensitive manner.

The Chair then gave members the opportunity to examine the Bill after which she requested input as to how the Bill could be made to be more gender sensitive.

Professor Ngubane said that she had read the opinion but was not sure in which respect the Bill was gender insensitive. She asked whether it was the absolute silence as to how women were affected by the bill, which made the bill gender insensitive. She asked the Chair to indicate in which ways the Bill was gender insensitive. Ms Vilakazi (IFP) agreed saying that when they approach their caucuses, they will be questioned in this regard.

Mr Suka explained that drafters assumed that banks were only managed by males and as a result made reference to 'him' only in legislation. The law advisors had stated that if the Amendment Bill was made gender-sensitive, such changes would have to be also effected to the principal Act as well. He referred to the fact that the Reserve Bank Governor had traditionally been a male and that this was the type of stereotype which gave rise to gender insensitive legislation.

The Finance Select Committee had passed a resolution that the National Treasury correct the principal Act, the Banks Act of 1990, within a year and amend the Interpretation Act.

The Chair recommended that a report be drawn up by the Committee calling on the Finance Ministry to ensure that its drafters draft all Finance Bills in a gender-sensitive manner, in line with the Constitution (see Appendix 2).

Medium Term Budget Policy Statement
The Committee will also submit a report dealing with the Medium Term Budget Policy statement which is currently being considered in Parliament. The Chair explained that in 1996 a commitment had been given in the budget speech that the budget would be phrased in a gender sensitive manner. However, when the budget speech was given earlier this year, there was no evidence of this commitment. She suggested that the commitment be reflected in at all budgetary spheres: national, provincial and local levels.

Mr Suka recommended that government should extend this commitment to all departments and emphasized the importance of the involvement of all three spheres of government as the delivery of gender sensitive legislation depends on inter- governmental co-operation.

Professor Ngubane stated that the Committee had to be empowered to interrogate the Budget. This means that the committee has to become a partner in the women's budgetary initiative in terms of which they would then analyze the budget from a gender perspective. One could then compare the budget of various years to determine if the position of women has improved.

The Chair stated that any further changes recommended by the committee had to be presented to her that day as the report had to be tabled the following day.

Rape Statistics Report
The Chair read through the report and asked for comments.

Mr.Suka asked whether the point of the report was to examine how SA deals with statistics. He asked whether they were re-examining the way statistics are dealt with in order to bring it in line with international standards. He also asked for clarity on the question of the rape of males.

The Chair explained that they were re-examining the way statistics are dealt with. Generally rape is defined only to apply to women although it is accepted that men too are often the victims of this crime. However, in calculating the number of rapes perpetrated against women annually, it should be calculated as per 100 000 women and not as per 100 000 of the population. This method of calculation is used internationally and appears to be a more accurate reflection of the rate of rapes.

The Chair proposed that reports in this regard be sent to the Minister of Safety and Security and to Statistics SA.

The Chair stated that there had been a commitment by government to present information disaggregated in terms of gender and race. She claimed that it had started out being presented in this way, but that there had been slippage in that regard subsequently.

The Chair asked members of other Portfolio Committees to identify issues in these committees which had relevance to women. This is important so as to enable the Committee to target these Ministers. In this way members of the Committee would be determining the issues to be dealt with by the Committee.

Future plans of the Committee
The Chair stated that only one provincial meeting could be held this year and this would take place in Kwazulu Natal on 22 and 23 November 2000.

Ms September stated that there were many issues concerning women currently under discussion in Kwazulu Natal and she therefore recommended that members attending this meeting attend on both days. She suggested that the Labour Movement, the Provincial Officer of COSATU and the Health and Welfare Department dealing with the AIDS issue, be invited.

Professor Ngubane objected to COSATU being invited as this was a multi-party issue. She agreed that the Health Department should be included.

Ms September replied that she had only used COSATU as an example.

The Chair announced that the Women's Economic Equality Conference was to take place from the 7 to 10 December 2000. She encouraged members to attend as it impacts on the UN Covenant on Social and Economic Rights.

Ms September volunteered to attend.

The Chair also asked members to attend the following:
- A Women's Legal Centre workshop to be held in Pietersberg on 30 November 2000
- Africa Gender Institute meeting to be held on 6 November 2000

Preparations for next year
- In preparation for Budget Day next year, the macro-economic policy of the budget will be researched by certain members.
- The Committee will invite the Minister and members of the World Health Organisation to address them on the HIV/AIDS issue.

Appendix 1:
Report of the Joint Monitoring Committee on Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Women on Police Crime Statistics on Rape, dated 10 October 2000:

The Joint Monitoring Committee on Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Women has noted the fact that crime statistics reported by the SAPS at present do not disaggregate rape statistics by sex.

Rape, as defined in South African law, is a crime which can only be perpetrated against women. Yet, the police present their crime figures routinely per 100 000 of the total population (ie men and women), instead of presenting those figures per 100 000 women. Since women make up approximately half the population, the burden of rape faced by women is essentially twice that faced by the total population. Presenting figures per total population diminishes the seriousness of the problem, especially in the calculation of the rate of rape.

The editor of "The World's Women 1995: Trends and Statistics" has reported that most countries define rape in relation to the female population and therefore present data only for the female population, per 100 000 women.

The Joint Monitoring Committee on Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Women therefore calls on the SAPS and Statistics SA, during the review of crime statistics that is currently under way, to ensure that -

1) rape statistics are disaggregated by sex; and
2) all crime statistics are routinely presented in a
manner which is sex-disaggregated.

The above will bring South Africa in line with the commitments made by Government in respect of the Beijing Platform for Action and CEDAW.

Appendix 2:
Report of the Joint Monitoring Committee on Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Women, dated 3 November 2000:

The Joint Monitoring Committee on Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Women (hereafter referred to as the Joint Committee) reports as follows:

Banks Amendment Bill
One of the tasks of the Committee is to ensure that legislation passed by Parliament is gender-sensitive.

The Chairperson of the Select Committee on Finance of the National Council of Provinces, Ms Q D Mahlangu, informed the Chairperson of the Joint Committee, Ms P Govender, that the Banks Amendment Bill [B 56B - 2000] was drafted in gender-insensitive language. An example of this is on page 8, in line 30, of the Bill, under Clause 4:

"If before or during any review under subsection (1) it transpires that any member of the board of review has any direct or indirect personal interest in the outcome of that review, such member shall recuse himself and he shall be replaced by -".

Another example is on page 16, in line 7, under Clause 10:

"(a) If, in the opinion of the Registrar, any bank will be unable to repay, when legally obliged to do so, deposits made with it or will probably be unable to meet any other of its obligations, the Minister may, if he deems it desirable in the public interest, with the written consent of the chief executive officer or the chairman of the board of directors of that bank, appoint a curator to the bank.".

The implication of this is the assumption that all these positions are held by men.

The Joint Committee obtained a legal opinion from the Women's Legal Centre, stating that it was possible to change the Bill and suggesting ways in which it could be changed, which it forwarded to the Chairperson of the Select Committee.

On 3 October, the Select Committee had a discussion with State Law Advisers and Parliamentary Law Advisers, who indicated that the Bill, under the prevailing circumstances, could not be amended by the Select Committee. The Select Committee unanimously felt that the Bill had to be made gender-sensitive, but passed it, stating in their report that it -

"... notes with concern that the principle Act (the Banks Act, 1990) and the Banks Amendment Bill [B 56B - 2000] are gender-insensitive, and recommends that the National Treasury correct this within 12 months of the adoption of this Report by the Council".

The Select Committee also noted the urgency of amending the Interpretation Act to facilitate gender-sensitive drafting.

The Joint Committee is aware of the fact that Parliament has passed many Bills amending principal Acts which are not drafted in a gender-sensitive manner.

The Joint Committee is of the opinion that legislation must be drafted in a gender-sensitive manner. We therefore support the call to the National Treasury to correct the principal Act, the Banks Act of 1990, within 12 months of adoption of the Select Committee's Report. This Act must then be brought to Parliament. We further call on the Justice Ministry to table an amended Interpretation Act in Parliament as a matter of urgency.

The policy and practice of this Parliament has been to draft the Constitution and all Bills in a gender-sensitive manner. Therefore, the Joint Monitoring Committee on Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Women calls on the Finance Ministry to ensure that its drafters draft all Finance Bills in a gender-sensitive manner, in line with the Constitution.


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