South Africa, Cape Town – Parliament has delayed by several months the adoption of gender-based violence laws that will tighten these bills in order to ensure their lawfulness will not be open to challenges in the Constitutional Court.
The justice committee had earmarked to finalise the three GBV bills by the end of the year, but it discovered there were provisions that could be open to a legal challenge.
Chairperson of the committee Bulelani Magwanishe said yesterday they have referred the bills to the legal advisers of Parliament for an opinion before they finalise them.
“We identified five issues that if not properly drafted there will be constitutional challenges,” he said, adding that the legal advisers were now looking at those issues.
“It is better to pass a bill that if it is challenged it will pass constitutional muster,” he said.
Magwanishe said it will be counter-productive to the fight against GBV if they passed laws that would be challenged in court.
“After we get the legal opinion we will try to finalise the bills. Parliament will then debate the bills,” said Magwanishe, adding that this would be done early next year.
“We are balancing two issues, the urgency, and quality.
“If we can opt for urgency it will compromise quality and reverse the war on GBV,” said Magwanishe.
He said one of the issues was around bail and the other one was on the minimum sentence.
“On bail, it needs to be written in a way that it meets the constitutional standards of our country,” said Magwanishe.
The committee chairperson said the issue of the minimum sentence would need to be fixed because it came up strongly during the public hearings.
The other issue is the right of the state to appeal cases, he said.
The legal advisers would go through the issues identified and provide an opinion to MPs.
The committee would reconvene early next year to ensure that the bills were passed by Parliament.
Justice Minister Ronald Lamola had, a few months ago, tabled the three bills in Parliament for processing.
These were the Domestic Violence Bill, the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill, and the Criminal and Related Matters Bill.