Video (Part 1)
Video (Part 2)
Ms Pinky Ngcobozi
The Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities began its public hearings on the National Council on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) Bill in Parliament. It invited stakeholders from various sectors, including civil society, Chapter Nine and academic institutions, labour organisations, government departments and individuals, to present their views on the proposed Bill. The Committee received 48 submissions after it had made a call for oral and written submissions.
The Bill sought to establish the National Council on GBVF; to provide for the objects and functions of the Council; to appoint the Council’s board and the appointment of board members, their term of office and the termination of their membership; and to provide for the appointment of the chief executive officer and the Council’s secretariat.
Stakeholders presented a diversity of views. Several of them suggested that whilst establishing a Council on GBVF to provide strategic leadership was important, statutory bodies of a similar nature, such as the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) and the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), already existed, and the concern was whether the new Council would merely be a duplication of their functions. They urged the Committee and government to allocate more funding to the existing structures to expand their capacity and ensure their optimal performance in addressing GBVF matters.
It was proposed that more resources be allocated to the South African Police Service (SAPS) and that there should be a specialised police force unit that dealt specifically with GBVF cases and the victims.
During the engagement with stakeholders, Members asked whether the inclusion of the LGBTQI communities should be explicitly stated in the Bill. The stakeholders responded with recommended percentages of representation of other population groups on the Council, and the possibility of an inter-ministerial body to manage the GBVF cases instead of establishing this Council.
The Committee urged stakeholders to peruse the Bill carefully and read it in relation to the national strategic plan (NSP) on GBVF to better understand the context.
Both Committee Members and stakeholders realised a lack of awareness of the Department’s public participation process. Some even indicated to the Committee that they had not had sufficient time to prepare for public participation with the Committee itself. For instance, many stakeholders in the higher education sector were in possession of vast knowledge, skills and expertise in addressing GBVF cases, as well as providing training, but they had not been consulted on the Bill.
Many stakeholders felt that the tagging of the Bill as a s75 bill should be reviewed and re-considered. Tagging it as a s76 bill would enable the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) to open up the public participation process at the provincial level. A suggestion that representatives from both the Departments of Basic and Higher Education should be included in the Council, given the prevalence of GBV in both sectors, was well-received by the Committee.
Stakeholders endorsed greater oversight of the proposed Council, and indicated that there had to be a parliamentary committee that directly oversaw the business of the Council.
There was one stakeholder whose view was substantially contrary to the views of others, as he called for the total disbanding of the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, and described the establishment of the proposed Council as a waste of public funds. Instead, the functions that were being proposed to be carried out by the Council should be done by the Department of Justice, the police, etc. He criticised government’s approach in alienating men from the solution, and called for more participation of men in addressing GBVF.
Chairperson's introductory remarks
The Chairperson said the Committee had invited civil society organisations and individuals to make submissions on the National Council on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (NCGBVF) Bill. The purpose of this meeting was for the public to comment and present their views of the Bill to the Committee.
She told the Committee’s Content Advisor that it was long past the Committee’s deadline for both the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD) and the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) to present to the Committee their amended annual performance plans (APPs). The Department had indicated to the Committee that it would be presenting on Friday, but the Committee still awaited the CGE’s response on when its APP would be ready. She stressed that both entities needed to report to the Committee before the recess period.
The Chairperson commended the APP of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA). The other Bill of the NYDA would be tabled to the Committee in the next term.
The Chairperson indicated that the Bill that was before Committee was a s75 bill. The explanatory note on the reason for the Bill being tagged as a s75 bill was gazetted in government notice 46991. The Bill was published for public comments on 30 September 2022 and the period ended on 29 November 2022. On 28 February, the Department and the State Law Advisor briefed the Committee on the Bill. The Committee also published the Bill for public comments, which started on 16 April and ended on 19 May. The invitation for public comments was advertised in all official languages in national and regional newspapers and on Parliament’s website.
Based on the technical nature of the Bill, the Committee did not expect a huge number of public submissions. As of the deadline, the Committee had received ten submissions online, 38 via email which made a total 48 submissions as of 19 May.
The Committee had also received late submissions, on which the Chairperson sought Members’ advice on whether or not to accept them. In total, five submissions were made after the closing date. Two submissions were made on 20 May, one on 21 May, and the other two were made on 22 May.
Thirteen organisations and four individuals had requested oral presentations on the Bill, which made it a total of 17 oral submissions.
The objective of the public hearing was to solicit public views on the Bill. The presenters would be given ten minutes to present, and Members would have five minutes to engage on the Bill. Furthermore, presenters were free to present in any official language.
On behalf of the Committee, she welcomed the inputs and engagements from interested parties.
The Committee noted and accepted Ms C Phiri’s (ANC) apology, as she was due to write exams.
The Chairperson said she would also write to political parties about Members’ attendance for this portfolio meeting since their parties might not be aware of their attendance.
The Chairperson sadly informed the Committee about the passing of Ms Tina Monica Joemat-Pettersson (ANC). The Committee observed a moment of silence.
Ilitha Labantu submission
Ilitha Labanthu said it was a social justice community organisation established in 1989 and based in Gugulethu, Cape Town. The organisation specifically addresses issues around women, children and other vulnerable groups.
The organisation welcomed the initiative of the establishment of the Council.
It highlighted that the Council needed to be empowered to impose sanctions. The current predicament was that laws were not being effectively enforced and perpetrators got away with their crimes. For instance, the organisation campaigned for the review of bail conditions and was of the view that perpetrators should not receive bail.
The organisation was concerned that many functions in the proposed Bill were already being performed by many chapter nine institutions, such as the South African Human Rights Council (SAHRC) and the CGE. The problem was that the public had lost trust in the courts and the police.
Ilitha Labanthu was of the view that the Council must be capacitated to enforce compliance. So far, it did not have real mandatory power to advise the Minister.
The organisation was concerned about the stringent percentage imposed on the representation. It would exclude women and men who were qualified to fight GBV.
See attached for full submission
Ms F Masiko (ANC) enquired about Ilitha Labanthu's comment on the inclusion of LGBTQI in the Bill, and sought clarity on whether it was her view that the provision should be explicitly stated.
The presenter explained that she felt the 80% representation of women on the board was discriminatory, because there were also men who were suffering from GBV as well. She urged the Committee to look at all vulnerable groups holistically and ensure that all sides were protected.
Both the Chairperson and Ms Masiko asked the presenter what the ideal percentage should be for other population groups, and whether she had a recommended percentage. There were seven who were already from civil organisations.
The presenter said that the organisation did not make a recommendation on the specific percentage, nor did not recommend a very stringent percentage on male or female representation. The organisation’s view was that the Bill should look at all sides of victims. Despite the majority of victims being females, there were males who were victims, and there was a legislative gap in protecting the rights of those males who were excluded because most of the Acts referred only to female victims.
The Chairperson asked the organisation to develop a proposal when it raised an issue. In this case, the organisation should have presented an ideal percentage as a solution.
The organisation replied that it would revert to the Committee with an ideal percentage if more time was allowed.
Commission for Gender Equality: submission
The Chairperson told Adv Nthabiseng Sepanya-Mogale, Chairperson, Commission for Gender Equality (CGE), that her apology for being late was unacceptable.
Adv Sepanya-Mogale explained that she could not arrive in Cape Town earlier because of a family meeting at the CGE which she had been obliged to attend.
The Commission was not in favour of the establishment of the Council, because there were already initiatives to address GBVF. There needed to be a concerted effort by all key role players to tackle the issue.
More specific points that were made were:
- The general use of terminology “may” in the Bill should be replaced by “must” and “shall”;
- The Bill’s definition of GBV includes only female persons or perceived female persons, which was limited. It excluded other gender identities. The Commission called for the definition to align with the one used in the Domestic Violence Act 2021.
- A broader range of activities should be included, such as harassment.
- Greater alignment with the National Strategic Plan (NSP).
See attached for full submission
Ms Masiko said the proposal of the CGE did not meet her expectations. Although a few weaknesses had been identified, the Commission had not proposed an alternative and doable solution.
Adv Sepanya-Mogale replied that the proposed model was that everyone should go back to the drawing board, review their structure, and assess where and how they were failing. For instance, the reason the CGE could not expand its footprint was because of its constrained budget. She questioned the rationale behind setting up another structure to focus on the area which several other governmental structures were already working on, instead of providing those existing structures with more resources.
Ms Masiko thanked Adv Sepanya-Mogale for the clarity which she provided.
The Chairperson asked her about the SA National Aids Council (SANAC) model.
Adv Sepanya-Mogale replied that she was unfamiliar with the SANAC model, but stressed that all the aspects she had raised should be reviewed. Was it efficient regarding the distribution of funds to the right organisations? What was the impact of SANAC in terms of the initial objectives? Could that model be duplicated? She highlighted that this legislation was not a SANAC model, but rather a CGE/Human Rights Act.
Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) said that the DA’s position was consistent with what she had said. She sought clarity on Adv Sepanya-Mogale’s remark that should the structure be in place, then organs of states would not be able to play any role in the Council. She enquired about the possibility of an inter-ministerial body as an alternative model whereby representatives of governmental departments played this role, and whether that would have a better impact on curbing GBVF. Since Members of the Executive and Parliament already had a budget, it would be more economical for them to participate because the government might not have sufficient funds to pay for Council members to participate in various activities. She emphasised the need to direct resources in a concerted effort to combat GBVF more cost-effectively.
Adv Sepanya-Mogale replied that government definitely should have a role in it, but emphasised that the roles and responsibilities must be clearly defined. She agreed with Ms Tarabella-Marchesi that her suggestion could be a good and effective model. She said that her organisation, given the limited budget, had not been able to communicate with other governmental departments through this Portfolio Committee, which the Commission was entitled to according to the CGE Act. This conundrum existed for other similar organisations, such as the SAHRC as well. She was of the view that those bodies needed to meet with the President at least once a year, which had not happened.
Ms M Khawula (EFF) sought clarity on s6 that referred to the 80% of women on the Council, and asked what number it should be.
Adv Sepanya-Mogale noted that this question had been raised to Ilitha Labantu earlier. It would be ten women and three men on the Council. However, the Bill as it was currently crafted would subsume instances, such as a trans woman being on the Council, as the trans woman would just be regarded as a woman instead of a transgendered woman who represented their communities with their specific agenda. The specificity applied to people with disability as well.
Ms Tarabella-Marchesi sought clarity on whether sexual orientation should be factored into the selection of Council members, and if the representation was absolutely necessary.
Adv Sepanya-Mogale said that the CGE’s position was that LGBTQI representation was a must, because this population had been facing violence in the past 30 years. Violence against them was specifically targeted due to their sexual orientation.
Ms Tarabella-Marchesi said that she had submitted a question to the Ministry of Police on GBV and rape, asking why the South African Police Service (SAPS) was not reporting on violence against people with different sexual orientations. The SAPS had explained that sexual orientation was about sexual preferences, so SAPS did not record those data. She asked if Adv Sepanya-Mogale was aware of that.
Adv Sepanya-Mogale confirmed that she was aware of this. She said that because of the prevalence of crimes against this population, it was incorrect for the SAPS to say it was a sexual preference. This population had been consistently killed, murdered or raped due to their sexual orientation.
Ms Khawula commented that the three members on the Council were insufficient to represent all the needs of the people.
She also suggested that other government departments, such as police, social development, etc., should also be on this platform. Because of the magnitude of GBV, it was difficult to address the issue in the absence of such a collaborative platform.
The Chairperson took note of Ms Khawula’s point. She was certain those departments would form part of the forum when the Committee deliberated on the Bill.
Ms Nkoskhona Witness Ngozo: submission
Ms Ngozo, an individual interested in the criminal justice system and its impact on communities and the country, was concerned that the proposed Council would be a duplication of functions, and that an efficient and effective monitoring system would not be in place to oversee the Council’s operation.
(For full details, her written submission is attached)
The Chairperson asked Ms Ngozo if she had read the National Strategic Plan (NSP) on GBVF, as it laid out the foundation of what the Bill sets out to achieve. She reminded her that after the GBVF summit last year, government had wanted to establish a Council that specifically addressed the issue of GBVF. This Bill therefore did not set out to achieve the combat of other types of crimes such as hijacking etc.
Ms Ngozo clarified that she had tried to emphasise that government had to look at all the social ills that caused GBVF. The actual place where GBVF took place was usually within families.
Ms Tarabella-Marchesi understood the presenter’s view, and said that this was the reason why a number of departments were explicitly stated in the Bill as well, such as Social Development, Health, Traditional Affairs, etc. She said that Traditional Affairs looked at people’s cultures and could provide feedback on how culture influences behaviours such as GBV. She also highlighted the non-existence of social workers in the school space.
The Chairperson said that that was how she also understood Ms Ngozo's view, which was why she had requested her to be more specific.
Ms Ngozo affirmed Ms Tarabella-Marchesi’s interpretation, and endorsed her view on the lack of social workers in addressing social ills around GBV. Those social workers were working only with grants and poverty in communities. Victims of crimes were not being taken care of. No professional provides any counselling service for victims. The lack of counselling could even make those victims become perpetrators.
Ms N Sharif (DA) sought clarity on whether the presenter’s submission was focusing on s4, which referred to the purpose of the Bill.
Ms Ngozo said that she had only read the whole Bill, and her submission was not specific to a certain section. Her concern was that the Council must not focus only on GBV. Also, she pointed out that structures were already in place that addressed GBV issues, such as the Department of Social Development and the criminal justice system. Her concern was that this Council would be a duplicate of functions. She nevertheless highlighted that there should be a council, but the Council should not be a council only for GBV.
The Chairperson asked the presenter why her concern was not addressed in the Bill, since she had also indicated that other role-playing departments were included on the Council in the Bill.
Ms Ngozo replied that it was because the Bill only said it was a national Council for GBVF and did not respond to other types of crimes.
The Chairperson said that the NSP addressed issues such as prevention, accountability, economic empowerment, etc. She suggested Ms Ngozo should read the Bill together with the NSP.
Ms Ngozo reiterated that she had read the bill line by line, and maintained her view that the Bill addresses only GBVF and would protect only women. It excludes other types of the population.
Fathers 4 Justice (Gauteng): submission
Mr Gary da Silva, Chairperson: Fathers 4 Justice, criticised government for not taking action to address the social ills that caused violence. He reiterated his organisation’s opposition to any form of violence.
The organisation stood for protecting fathers’ rights.
The view of the organisation was that the Bill promoted discrimination against men and was completely unnecessary and a waste of funds.
(See attached presentation for details).
Ms Sharif sought clarity on the organisation’s submission on the Bill. She asked Mr Da Silva to specify which sections of the Bill his organisation intended to make an input.
She sought more clarity about the female perpetrators in the presentation, and asked if the organisation was advocating for more awareness around the subject.
Mr Da Silva criticised the Department’s stance to exclude men, and urged government to include men in the solution to address violence issues in society. The current prevalent social value which criticised men was against the organisation’s view. He criticised the Department of Social Development for excluding men as well. In his view, there was not a single part of the Act which was necessary. He called for disbanding the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities. The job which the DWYPD focuses on should be done by the Department of Justice and the SAPS. He called the Bill a vanity project, and described it as a situation similar to having four ministers sorting out electricity issues while there was still no improvement in the electricity supply.
Ms Pinky Ngcobozi (KwaZulu-Natal) submission
Ms Pinky Ngcobozi introduced herself as an activist for GBV. She indicated that she was involved in the process of the NSP, as well as having participated in various platforms on advocacy.
Among her inputs, she questioned the tagging of the Bill as a s75 bill. In her view, since provinces and municipalities were assigned the mandates according to NSP, it would involve budget allocation and the Bill should therefore be tagged as a s76 bill.
She questioned whether the Council would be a credible one that was non-partisan and independent.
She quoted the case of Mogale and Others v Speaker of the National Assembly and Others, where it was declared that Parliament had failed to comply with its constitutional obligation to facilitate public involvement before passing legislation, and asked whether consultations had taken place and if so, she wanted to see the attendance register, the decisions made in those consultations and how they had shaped the current Bill.
(See attached submission).
The Chairperson told Ms Ngcobozi that her concern was exactly the same as what the Committee had raised with the DWYPD. The Committee had requested the list of invitees from the Department. She reassured the public that the Committee did not treat the public participation process as a box-ticking exercise. She said the prolonged process was because of the Committee’s seriousness in engaging with the public. She reassured the presenter that the public would still have an opportunity to engage with the Department again.
Ms Ngcobozi expressed her concern that the Department should be mindful that the inputs made by the public had not been taken into account. She inquired about possibly having a small technical team to deal with accountability, intersectionality, inter-departmental relations and coordination. She asked the Committee to consider dual-tagging the Bill, reiterating that the Bill would not serve the purpose if it was a s75 bill.
Ms Masiko asked Ms Ngcobozi whether she believed this public hearing was a public consultation process. She urged the public to provide the Committee with written submissions. This was especially necessary, since the public had raised the concern that none of their submissions were being considered.
Ms Sharif felt that as much as the Committee had pushed for greater public participation, the Committee was doing the job of the Department, as the Department should have done the same about the Bill. She commented that fighting for GBVF required a whole societal approach. She reassured Ms Ngcobozi and members of the public that the Committee had always been trying to push the Department to engage further with the public on the Bill.
Ms Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) asked the Committee if it should seek clarity from the Department on what had informed its decision to tag the Bill as a s75 or s76 bill, since the impact of GBV affected the whole of society.
Ms Ngcobozi welcomed the Committee’s indication that members of the public could still make submissions to Parliament.
Ms Refilwe Precious Sebela (Pretoria) submission
Ms Refilwe Precious Sebela, of Pretoria, appearing in her personal capacity, made the following inputs on the Bill:
The definitions needed to fully describe “men”.
The board of the Council should include representatives from the Department of Education.
The board meetings should be cancelled if the Chairperson and the Deputy Chairperson are absent from those meetings.
(See attached submission).
The Chairperson agreed with Ms Sebela, and indicated that the Committee had also discovered the omission of the Department of Education in the Bill.
Ms Sharif sought clarity on whether the presenter had referred to the basic or higher education departments, because her suggestion would mean that the involved governmental departments would increase from six to seven or eight.
Ms Sebela replied that since GBV happened at the lower level, such as schools, she was of the view that both the basic and the higher education departments should be involved.
The Chairperson enquired about the inclusion of the private sector.
Ms Sebela replied that in her observation, many key stakeholders, such as researchers, institutions of higher learning, and people specialising in this topic, were not included in the process, and that the Bill should aim at reaching out to a broader range of stakeholders.
Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) submission
Ms Divashnee Naidoo, Researcher, Helen Suzman Foundation, submitted the following inputs:
- The Bill’s definition of GBV should be expanded to include violence based on gender identity and sexuality;
- The NSP’s deadline of March 2024 for achieving its targets should be extended to allow the Council time enough to formulate their action plan to implement the NSP (Action Plan), seek public comment thereon, and properly implement the Action Plan itself;
- The Bill’s inter-sectoral approach to eliminating GBV and femicide should include the organs of state listed in Pillar 1 of the NSP, as well as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Department of Basic Education (DBE);
- The Bill must provide for the Council’s operational structures so that it could best implement the Council’s action plan at national, provincial and local levels;
- The Council’s chief executive officer (CEO) must be sufficiently independent; and
- Oversight of the Council must be improved by establishing a parliamentary oversight committee dedicated to implementing the NSP, and by providing for regular reporting periods and public participation in the Council’s reporting processes.
(See attached submission).
Ms Masiko chaired the meeting as the acting Chairperson in Ms Ndaba’s absence.
Ms Sharif said s6 of the Bill did mention justice and constitutional development, so she wanted to know whether Ms Naidoo suggested including the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
Was it the HSF’s position that a new portfolio committee should be established, and that the Council should be accountable to Parliament, and not to Cabinet?
The acting Chairperson shared the same view as her colleague, and asked Ms Naidoo if the HSF felt that the oversight of this portfolio committee would not be sufficient to oversee and handle the Council’s work.
Ms Naidoo replied that the submission was of the view that should the proposed Council take an inter-sectoral approach or decision, the NPA must be included in such cases.
To answer Ms Sharif’s question, the HSF would advocate for the NPA to be included on the board and all the other identified bodies in the NSP.
She said she was unfamiliar with the oversight function of this Committee. The organisation’s submission was that in addition to accounting to Cabinet, this Council must report to a dedicated committee in Parliament, which it did not do in terms of this Bill. There had to be a direct accountability relationship between the Council and Parliament, and not an indirect one through the Council’s annual report.
Wise4Afrika & Masimanyane International submission
The submission of Wise4Afrika & Masimanyane International called for greater coordination in the implementation of the NSP to see better impact.
It emphasised that the correct preamble of the Bill should refer to patriarchy. Although GBVF mostly affected women, the Bill should not exclude men and young boys who were also being abused.
The submission supported the Bill, and was of the view that the Committee was on the right track. It encouraged the Committee to accelerate the process of the Bill.
The submission commented on the tagging of the Bill. Since every single individual must be seized with this Bill, the organisation submitted that s76 tagging would be more appropriate.
(See attached submission).
The Acting Chairperson invited Committee Members to ask questions, but none were forthcoming.
Mr Ian Cameron, Action Society
The organisation questioned the Bill’s effectiveness in addressing the root causes of GBV.
It questioned the transparency and accountability of the Council, and said it lacked a clear mandate or mechanism to address corruption, inefficiency and other backlogs in the SAPS.
The Bill also lacked a clear mandate to hold the Department of Justice and the Department of Social Development to account or a clear mandate to increase convictions and preventative measures.
(See attached submission)
The acting Chairperson said she hoped that there were specific suggestions made in Action Society’s written submission on the specific sections that it wished to make inputs on.
Ms Sharif asked Mr Cameron how Action Society proposed to ensure that the Council had law enforcement power, and what steps should be included in the Bill that could be sanctioned once the Bill came into effect.
Ms Tarabella-Marchesi agreed with Mr Cameron's input on the children that were sexually abused. She said the government already had existing institutions set up that were failing, despite millions of taxpayers’ money that had been spent. She thus asked him what the root causes of GBV were, and which had now even led to the abuse of children.
She noted that many women could attest to the lack of training of police officers when they reported GBV cases. She asked if the presenter would agree that the government should have a specialised police force that would be exclusively responsible for GBV cases. In her view, she did not think that the police were currently well equipped to deal with this scourge.
Mr Cameron responded that the Child Protection Unit was significantly under-resourced. Action Society sometimes had to support detectives in numerous ways. For instance, he recalled one incident in which his organisation had to provide paint for a police station so that the facility would make victims feel slightly more comfortable. There were police stations in Gugulethu that had no light bulbs. He thus questioned how GBV victims were supposed to report cases at those facilities if they could not even find their way there at night. He agreed with the suggestion that money could be spent on specialised detectives, and recommended training specialised female police officers to tackle the situation. In most cases, the last person a lady rape survivor would want to see was a male officer.
Mr Cameron indicated that there had been a severe 50% increase in GBV cases during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the social-economic crisis certainly exacerbated the situation. For instance, in some informal settlement areas in Johannesburg, the lack of recreational space for children meant that children were more likely to be exposed to violence. He criticised government’s lack of urgency to solve child-related cases. In the Mia Botha case, instead of engaging with the community to track the murderer, the police had simply sent public order police out to patrol the streets. It showed the police’s desperate approach as they were under-resourced and could not function properly.
He also criticised the functioning of the courts. He observed that cases often got postponed due to load-shedding, someone did not show up, or the translator had not been paid.
Dr Fikile Vilakazi, Gender Equity Unit: University of the Western Cape
Dr Vilakazi indicated to the Committee the submission of her unit from the University of the Western Cape (UWC) was attached to the report of the CGE.
It recommended the inclusion of the Departments of Higher as well as Basic Education, as stakeholders in this Bill.
Given the vast resources and expertise that institutions of higher learning possessed, Dr Vilakazi urged the government to consult them extensively, as the sector was willing to share its expertise and help the government to tackle the GBVF issue.
(Details of the submission could be referred to in the presentation slides.)
The Chairperson asked the presenter why the Bill should be tagged as a s76 bill.
She also sought confirmation from the presenter that the Department had not invited her organisation when it conducted public hearings on the Bill.
Dr Vilakazi said that as much as she was aware, the University of Western Cape had not been invited to the Department’s public hearing. She would like to see the register of the people, as well as the organisations which had been consulted. She highlighted that her unit had been involved in the work for many years, and their inputs were of substantial value. She supported the establishment of the Council, and recognised the important work which the Council was set out to achieve.
She explained that the difference between s75 and s76 was that the public engagement of the former was more limited, whereas the latter would require engagement at the provincial level and a bigger scope ultimately. Given that GBVF was a pandemic, she was of the view that the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) should open up this discussion to all people in the country. For now, even within the UWC, no one knew of this process, nor had they been consulted.
The Chairperson asked Dr Vilikazi if that would not suffice, since the Committee had advertised the Bill for public participation. The Committee would even allow it if presenters wanted to add more details to their submissions. She explained that the time for the Department to invite public comments had passed, and now it was the Committee’s turn to do this work thoroughly. She also asked if people were truly interested in commenting on the Bill and why the number of submissions which the Committee had received was so low. She said that the public should change the perception that public participation was not being taken seriously by the Committee, because it was.
Ms Tarabella-Marchesi suggested that Parliament may not be moving at the pace of the rapid transformation of technology which had been taking place in the world. Parliament had not emphasised utilising social media to invite public comments, and she suggested that Parliament use that platform effectively to spread the word.
She also asked whether other universities in other provinces had similar bodies within those institutions.
Ms Sharif said that the DWYPD should have been the one to coordinate universities, social workers, the health sector and other stakeholders. The Committee’s public participation should select the participants from the first round of public participation. She stressed to the Chairperson that this Bill should have been more inclusive in terms of the voices on the ground, and said that the Department needed to account for that.
Dr Vilakazi agreed with Ms Sharif that the ball had been dropped somewhere in the process, and advised the Committee to tag the Bill as a s76 bill.
The UWC was a community of practice in the GBV space. So far, there was only one university that was not part of that space, which was the University of KwaZulu-Natal. All other universities were in the space. The forum met bi-annually to discuss GBV issues in the university setting.
She confirmed to the Chairperson that this was the only opportunity that the university space could make its submission on the Bill. They would not have known about the public comment process if it had been left to the Department.
She highlighted that the role of academics in society could be instrumentally helpful to the Council by providing them with data, inputs, policy development, evidenced-based intervention, etc.
She said that the University of Pretoria had a centre for gender, AIDS and sexuality. Other universities might name similar units as transformation offices, or inclusion and diversity units.
The meeting was temporarily adjourned, as Committee Members would have to present the Committee’s two reports to the National Assembly (NA) plenary.
Centre for Social Justice submission
The Centre for Social Justice, Faculty of Law, Stellenbosch University, submitted that:
- The Bill should be more transformative to end GBVF;
- Clarity was needed on the objective and purpose of the Bill;
- Synergy must be enhanced to coordinate the work of various departments; and
- Resource allocation should be carefully considered.
During the presentation, the Chairperson interjected and asked the presenter when the Department had invited the Centre to participate in the public hearing on the Bill.
Ms Masiko asked the presenter if the organisation’s input had been considered now that the Bill itself was in front of her.
The presenter clarified that her organisation had submitted written submissions to the call for public comments on the Bill. She had presented a shorter presentation just now.
Ms Sharif asked the presenter if she had written the submission for this public participation which this Committee hosted, and not the previous one which the Department had initiated.
The presenter said yes.
Ms Sharif said to the Chairperson that she had clarified this matter. The presenter was uncertain whether her organisation had joined the previous public participation process by the Department.
The Chairperson remarked that the presenter had provided the Committee with a “half-baked” submission. She urged presenters not to avoid presenting in-depth information to the Committee, because it wanted to know more information.
See submission attached
The Chairperson informed the presenter that the Committee would review her organisation’s submission.
Black Management Forum submission
The Women Empowerment Desk (WED) of the Black Management Forum (BMF) made the following inputs on the various sections:
- s6: at least one female representation from each ethnic group to increase diversity of thought, and at least one member from the LGBTQI community. If the chairperson of the Council was a female, then the deputy should be a male, or vice versa.
- S7: it should be included that if an individual had been allegedly "accused of" (a sexual offence), that person should not be appointed to the Council.
- S8: the timeframe should be amended to 30 days.
- S10: the Minister should seek assistance from the National Treasury regarding the remuneration of board members.
- S11: it should be included that a vacancy would also happen if a member could no longer occupy the role due to health reasons.
- S16: a separation of power between CEO and chief financial officer (CFO).
- S19: separation of power and duty, and the CEO should not be responsible for financial management of the Council.
See submission attached
Ms Masiko asked about the view of the Black Management Forum on the inclusion and participation of the private sector in the Bill.
The presenter indicated that the BMF had not engaged in the Bill, because the organisation had become aware of the invitation for public comments only five days before the closing of submissions.
Ms Sharif sought more clarity on “allegedly being accused” in the submission. She commented that she herself was in favour of believing in the victim until the accused was proven innocent on matters related to GBVF, whilst the principle of the criminal justice system at large in the country was around innocence until proven guilty.
The presenter said that the thinking around that was because the organisation had seen many cases where perpetrators had not been charged for certain offences. The organisation’s view was that should a person be found involved in such allegations, that person should automatically not be allowed to participate until their names were cleared.
That concluded the public hearings of the day.
The Chairperson thanked all presenters, and the Department as well.
Ms Sharif requested a report from the Department on more details of its public participation process, which should include details such as what public participation it had done, what procedures were used, which publications the adverts had been posted in, attendance registers, and who had been invited.
The Chairperson said to Dr Vilakazi that the Committee would schedule another meeting with her so that she could make her full presentation.
She requested that the Department provide all the information that Ms Sharif had requested.
The meeting was adjourned.
- UWC Presentation
- Etienne Koedijk Submission
- Call to Action Collective Submission
- Wise4Afrika Submission
- Social Justice Submission
- RP Sebela Submission
- Ms Ngozo Submission
- Ilitha Labantu Submission
- HSF Submission
- Fathers 4 Justice Response
- CGE Comments
- CGE Submission
- BMF Comments
- Amnesty International SA Submission
- Action Society Submission
- PsySSA Comments
- Media Statement: Public Hearings On National Council On Gender-Based Violence And Femicide Bill Get Underway
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.