GBV bills: adoption; Information Regulator Appointment Process; with Deputy Minister

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Justice and Correctional Services

08 September 2021
Chairperson: Mr G Magwanishe (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Tracking GBV bills
Tabled Committee Reports

In a virtual meeting attended by the Deputy Minister, the Committee adopted the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill and the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act Amendment Bill.

The Department took the Committee through the C-version of both bills, which incorporated the amendments that had been proposed by the National Council of Provinces and endorsed by the Committee. Because the Committee had discussed the amendments in its meeting the day before, discussion on the Bills was brief and confined to grammatical and technical issues.

The Committee adopted both bills, with the DA reserving its position on the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill, and adopted its reports on the bills. It would submit the bills to the National Assembly for final adoption, without a debate.

The Committee was also briefed on the process it would follow to fill the vacancies arising at the Information Regulator. The Committee had received 31 applications for the four vacant positions, and would prepare a shortlist at the end of September. It planned to hold interviews between 2 and 4 November, and to make recommendations to the House by 10 November.


Meeting report

Committee amendments to the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act Amendment Bill [B16C-2020]

Mr Henk Du Preez, State Law Adviser, Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJCD), took the Committee through the C-version of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act Amendment Bill (CLAB).

Mr Du Preez said that the C-version incorporated the amendments that the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) had made to the B-version of the Bill. DOJCD had briefed the Committee on those amendments in its meeting the day before, but he would go through them again.

Overview of amendments

The NCOP amendments had resulted in three main categories of amendments:
- Replacement of the outdated phrase “person who is mentally disabled” with the phrase “person with a mental disability”;
- Renumbering of clauses; and
- Technical amendments.

Clause 6: Prohibitions on employment in section 41(b)

Clause 6 of the Bill had been amended to delete the reference to places “where persons who are vulnerable are present or congregate.”

Mr Du Preez said that the Committee had in fact approved the deletion previously, but the appropriate change had not been made to the B-version of the Bill. He apologised to Members for the oversight.

Clause 21: Long title of the Act

Clause 21 of the Bill had been amended to include “sexual intimidation” in the long title of the principal Act.

(See document.)


The Chairperson said that the Committee had discussed the NCOP amendments in its meeting the day before, but he invited Members to make any further contributions.

Dr W Newhoudt-Druchen (ANC) said that she had missed what Mr Du Preez had said about the amendment to clause 6.

Mr Du Preez replied that the substantive amendment to clause 6 had been discussed and agreed to by the Committee in a previous meeting, before the Bill had been sent to the NCOP. The Committee had agreed that the deleted phrase – “where persons who are vulnerable are present or congregate” – would make the provision too broad and “throw the net too wide.” Unfortunately, that amendment had not been reflected in the B-version of the Bill that had been presented to the Select Committee. He took full responsibility for the oversight. Fortunately, the oversight had been picked up. So the NCOP amendment to clause 6 was merely a correction – it reflected an amendment that the Committee had already approved during its deliberations on the A-version of the Bill.

Mr J Selfe (DA) said that he might be mistaken – he had not dealt with legislation for a long time – but he thought there was an error on the cover page of the document. The label under the heading was [B16B-2020], but was this not the C-version of the Bill?

Mr Du Preez replied that the [B16B-2020] label showed that the document contained the Committee’s amendments to the B-version. The fact that it was the C-version of the Bill was indicated in the bottom left corner of the cover page, with the label [B16C-2020].

Mr Selfe said that the Bill sometimes referred to persons with “a mental disability” and sometimes to persons with “mental disabilities.” He thought that the same phrase should be used throughout the Bill – personally, he thought that the latter, plural phrasing was correct.

Mr Du Preez replied that, as he had mentioned, many of the NCOP amendments to the Bill were technical amendments, referring to persons “with mental disabilities” rather than persons “who are mentally disabled.” As he had told the Committee the day before, the South African Human Rights Commission had proposed those amendments to the Select Committee, on the grounds that the latter phrase was outdated. In making those amendments, DOJCD had done a word search through the principal Act to ensure that it replaced all occurrences of the outdated phrase.

Mr Selfe said that he completely accepted that explanation. However, his concern was with the Bill as it stood now. Both “person with a mental disability” and “persons with mental disabilities” occurred in the current Bill. He thought that the Bill should consistently use one of those phrases – he preferred the latter.

Mr Du Preez replied that some sections were phrased in the plural and others were phrased in the singular. In this regard, the drafters were bound by the provisions of the principal Act. In some places, the phrasing of the principal Act made it impossible for the Bill to use the singular. That was why both phrases were used – though their ultimate meaning was the same.

Mr Selfe said that he was not really satisfied. He could not see how the drafters could be bound by the principal Act even as they were amending it. But he would not make a fuss over the issue.

Mr John Jeffery, Deputy Minister of Justice, said that he thought that Mr Selfe’s concern was that, when referring to a singular person, the Bill used the phrase “mental disability”; but when referring to plural persons, the Bill used the phrase “mental disabilities.” He thought that Mr Selfe was suggesting “person with mental disabilities” should be used when referring to a singular person – he did not think that would be correct. In any case, he appealed to Mr Selfe to accept the Bill as it was.

The Committee adopted the Bill.

Committee report on the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act Amendment Bill [B16B-2020]

The Committee adopted its draft report on the CLAB.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Du Preez and assured him that the Committee accepted his apologies for errors in the Bill’s B-version. 

Committee amendments to the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill [B20C-2020]

Ms Kalay Pillay, Deputy Director General: Legislative Development, DOJCD, took the Committee through the C-version of the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill (DVAB).

Overview of amendments

Ms Pillay said the NCOP had proposed three main categories of amendments:
- Gender neutrality and non-binary inclusivity, with corresponding technical amendments (especially the replacement of “he or she” with “they” and related pronouns);
- Renumbering of clauses; and
- Technical amendments.

Clause 2: Definitions in section 1

The following definitions in the Bill had been amended:
- “Emergency monetary relief,” to expand the scope of the relevant maintenance;
- “Harassment,” to include stalking; and
- “Intimidation,” to include threats conveyed electronically.

Clauses 6, 9, and 10: Time frames in sections 4, 5B and 6

Clauses 6, 9, and 10 had been amended to specify an immediate or urgent time frame for, respectively, the submission of protection order applications, the removal of access to electronic communications, and the service of protection orders.

Clauses 12 and 17: Place of study in sections 7 and 12

Clause 12 and 17 had been amended to extend the scope of protection to include the non-disclosure of information about where the complainant or a related person studied.

Clause 16: Variation or setting aside of protection order in section 10

Clause 16 had been amended to insert an additional condition – that “proper service has been effected on the respondent” – which had to be met for the court to vary or set aside a protection order.

Clause 23: Directives by departments in section 18B

Clause 23 had been amended to insert subsection 18B(3), requiring that, “The directives referred to in this section must ensure that adequate disciplinary steps are taken against a functionary or person who fails to comply with any directive.”

Clause 24: Regulations in section 19

Clause 24 had been amended such that legal aid at state expense could also be used to assist the complainant, respondent, a person with a disability, or an older person with applying for a protection order. 

Clause 27: Short title

Clause 27 had been amended to correct the name of the prospective act, which would be the Domestic Violence Amendment Act, not the Domestic Violence Act Amendment Act.

(See document.)


The Chairperson said that the Committee had discussed the NCOP amendments in its meeting the day before, but he invited Members to make any further contributions.

Dr Newhoudt-Druchen asked why underlining and bolding had been used interchangeably, and therefore inconsistently, in the document.

Ms Pillay replied that there might have been a printing problem with the B-version of the Bill. In that version, some additions had not been underlined, and some deletions had not been bolded. So, in fact, although the C-version appeared to use inconsistent formatting, it actually corrected the inconsistent formatting of the B-version.

The Committee adopted the Bill, with the DA reserving its position. 

Adv G Breytenbach (DA) said that, although the DA reserved its position, she did not foresee any problem.

Deputy Minister Jeffery said that the DA in the NCOP had supported the Bill, so he hoped there would not be any problems in the National Assembly (NA). He had mentioned that to the Committee the previous day but Adv Breytenbach had not been present.

Adv Breytenbach repeated that she did not expect there to be any problems. She had to take the Bill back to the DA caucus, but it was just a formality.

Mr R Dyantyi (ANC) joked that the DA members were scared of their party leader.

Committee report on the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill [B20B-2020]

The Committee considered its draft report on the DVAB.

DOJCD and Committee staff discussed whether the report should refer to the “Domestic Violence Act Amendment Bill” or to the “Domestic Violence Amendment Bill.” One of the NCOP amendments had been to change the short title from the former to the latter.

Dr Barbara Loots, Parliamentary Legal Adviser, said that she thought it was correct to refer to the “Domestic Violence Act Amendment Bill,” which was the title of the B-version on record. Once the D-version was produced, the Bill would become the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill.

The Chairperson said that the report was agreed to. 

The Chairperson asked whether Members still held that the Bill should be introduced in the NA without a debate. That was the approach that the Committee had agreed on in its meeting the day before.

Ms N Maseko-Jele (ANC) said that she still endorsed the decision the Committee had made the day before. She saw no reason to deviate from it, unless other Members were opposed.

Adv Breytenbach said that there should “please” be no debate, only a declaration.

The Chairperson said that, with politicians, one always had to double-check. 24 hours was a long time in politics.

Mr Siyabamkela Mthonjeni, Committee Secretary, said that, given that maxim, he should double-check whether the Committee had formally adopted its report on the DVAB. He thought that the discussion about the Bill’s title had distracted the Committee from the formal motion to adopt.

The Chairperson agreed.

The Committee formally adopted its draft report on the DVAB.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Mthonjeni for alerting the Committee to what would have been a serious procedural issue. He thanked the Committee research team, led by the content advisor, and the DOJCD drafting team, led by Ms Pillay.

Briefing: Information Regulator appointments

Ms Christine Silkstone, Committee Content Advisor, briefed the Committee on the process of appointing new members to the Information Regulator (IR). The Committee was familiar with the process because it had recommended the appointment of Ms Alison Tilley as a part-time member late last year.

Context and criteria

Four vacancies at the IR would arise on 1 December, upon the conclusion of the terms of the chairperson, two full-time members, and one part-time member.

Ms Silkstone outlined the criteria, and disqualifying factors, for appointees to the IR. She noted that members were eligible for reappointment, so the Committee could reappoint members whose terms had expired.

Appointment process

Section 41(2)(a) of the Protection of Personal Information Act provided that the President appointed the chairperson and members of the IR on the recommendation of the NA.

The NA had to recommend persons:
- Nominated by the Committee;
- Approved by the NA in a resolution adopted with a supporting vote of a majority; and
- With an indication of whether the persons would be appointed in a full-time or part-time capacity.

(See presentation.)

Draft Committee programme

Mr Mthonjeni presented the Committee’s draft programme for the appointment process. The vacancies had already been advertised, with the advertisement closed as of 31 August. 31 applications had been received, and the Committee secretariat would soon send to Members the candidates’ CVs and a summary of the CVs. 

- 13-24 September: Reception of public comments on candidates’ names;
- 27-30 September: Shortlisting of candidates;
- 2-4 November: Interviews;
- 9 November: Deliberations; and
- 9 or 10 November: Committee report to the House.

Mr Mthonjeni noted that the Committee would have to apply for permission to sit once during the constituency period, sometime between 27 and 30 September, in order to determine the shortlist. At the same meeting, the Committee could determine the size of the shortlist, the structure of the interviews, and the questionnaire to be sent to shortlisted candidates. 


The Chairperson said that the Committee proposed to ask to sit for an hour or so, sometime between 27 and 30 September, to prepare the shortlist. Shortlisting usually did not take more than an hour or two. After that, Members would be released to campaign for the local elections. Waiting until the next parliamentary term to prepare the shortlist might delay the process – shortlisted candidates had to be screened by the State Security Agency, which took a lot of time. Under the proposed programme, the Committee would be able to focus on interviews when the next parliamentary term began, and then it would be able to present its recommendations to the House timeously.

Ms Maseko-Jele agreed that it was necessary to meet once during the constituency period for shortlisting. The Committee should schedule a meeting any day between 27 and 30 September. As the Chairperson had explained, that would allow other processes to continue during the constituency period. The next parliamentary term was going to be very short.

Mr X Nqola (ANC) noted that the Committee’s recommendations would have to receive the support of a majority of the NA (see slide 9). However, a majority of the NA’s 400 Members was very different to a majority among the Members who were present at a given sitting. But the Committee could discuss that in later meetings.

Mr Nqola said that the programme was clear. It was appropriate that the interviews had been rescheduled following the change in the parliamentary programme. However, four days during the constituency period – from 27 to 30 September – were set aside for shortlisting. He thought the Committee would need, at most, only one or two days for shortlisting. Could the shortlisting window not be reduced, so that Members would be free to campaign during the recess? He joked that he was not sure whether Mr Selfe, Mr Horn, and Adv Breytenbach would be able to pronounce candidates’ names during their campaigns.

The Chairperson explained that the Committee would select one day for shortlisting, sometime between 27 and 30 September – the Committee would have to decide which day. It would meet for only one or two hours on only one of those days. In the Committee’s experience, shortlisting did not take more than an hour.

Mr W Horn (DA) said light-heartedly to Mr Nqola that he was not sure which was worse – struggling to pronounce names, or struggling to understanding the Committee programme.

Mr Nqola suggested that the Committee should meet to determine the shortlist on 27 September. In the Committee’s experience, the vetting process for shortlisted candidates took a long time. The earlier the Committee met, the more time there would be for vetting.

Ms Maseko-Jele agreed with Mr Nqola’s proposal and his reasoning. The vetting had to be done so that the Committee could begin its work promptly at the end of the constituency period.

Adv Breytenbach said that meeting on 27 September would, fortunately, give DA Members enough time to practice the pronunciations, and give Mr Nqola enough time to learn how to read the programme.

The Chairperson thanked Ms Silkstone and Mr Mthonjeni for guiding the Committee through the IR process.

Consideration and adoption of Committee minutes

The Committee considered and adopted its draft minutes dated 24 August, 25 August, 26 August, 31 August, 1 September, 2 September 2021.

The Chairperson asked whether those were all the outstanding minutes, and whether the Committee did not have to adopt yesterday’s minutes.

Mr Mthonjeni replied that yesterday’s minutes were not ready for adoption yet.

Closing remarks

The Chairperson thanked Members and observers. The gender-based violence bills were now ready to be presented to the NA. Hopefully, they would be sent to the President for assent, so that the legislation could be implemented as soon as possible and so that South Africa would be in a position to fight the “pandemic” of gender-based violence in South Africa.

The meeting was adjourned.  


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