COSATU will present its submission on the 3 Gender Based Violence (GBV) Bills to the National Assembly’s Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services today at 10:00 am, Tuesday 20 October 2020 during its virtual public hearings.
These 3 progressive bills (Sexual Offences, Domestic Violence & Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bills) are part of the package of interventions committed to by the President in 2019. They are a welcome step in the right direction to capacitate the state to tackle the scourge of violence affecting women, children, the elderly and persons with disabilities, in particular sexual offences.
Key provisions proposed in the Bills include:
· Tightening incest prohibitions.
· Extensive definitions of sexual intimidation.
· The inclusion of all convicted sex offenders in the National Register.
· Providing the Register to be publicly accessible.
· Prohibiting the employment of sex offenders in professions where vulnerable persons may be at risk.
· Requiring persons aware of offences being committed against children to report them to the police.
· Providing for intermediaries and audiovisual court processes for vulnerable complainants.
· Tightening protection orders, bail, sentencing and parole provisions for sex offenders.
· Removing weapons from the accused; &
· Empowering the police to arrest and enter premises without warrants if needed.
Whilst the Federation welcomes and supports these Bills, they need to be further strengthened. Additional amendments required include:
· Reinserting stalking provisions; &
· Removing wording providing for the accused to “have or ought to have known”.
These Bills will further empower the state to deal with GBV. Parliament must move with speed to strengthen them and pass them into law.
However, they will remain meaningless if Treasury can further, reduce budgetary allocations to Legal Aid for victims, the courts, and SAPS.
Equally, the government must ensure that all law enforcement, judicial, health, social development and education officials are properly trained to enforce them. Public education programmes to are critical if we are to stem the onslaught against women, children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.
For further information please contact: Matthew Parks- COSATU Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687