Minister Lamola welcomes steps taken by the National Assembly to pass two Amendment Bills

June 23rd, 2020
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By Kgomotso Ramotsho

The Department of Justice and Correctional Services issued a statement that, Minister Ronald Lamola, has welcomed the progressive steps taken by the National Assembly of Parliament to pass two Amendment Bills to remedy laws, which have both had deeply layered patriarchal effects on the society of South Africa (SA). The Prescription in Civil and Criminal Matters (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill B22 of 2019 and the Recognition of Customary Marriages Amendment Bill, 2019 are a series of various legislative amendments and Bills, which will be placed before Parliament for consideration. The statement added that as SA’s constitutional democracy evolves, it must expeditiously address ‘toxic masculinity’, which still exists and simmers at the core of society.

Prescription in Civil and Criminal Matters (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill

Section 18 of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 provides that after a period of 20 years, the prosecution of certain crimes is no longer possible due to the lapse in time. These exclusions included certain common law sexual offences, such as sexual assault. The amended Bill provides that all sexual offences may be prosecuted regardless of the lapse of time.

The statement pointed out that many survivors ‘suffer in silence’ and never disclose the offences at all – and the perpetrator escapes all consequence – or the victim only discloses the offence over varying periods. The statement added that according to Statistics South Africa Victims of Crime Survey, extracted from the Governance, Public Safety and Justice Survey: 2018/2019, the report revealed that 88% of victims of sexual offences reported at least one incident. The percentage increased from 73% in 2017/2018.

The statement said the Ministry of Justice believes that such amendments will encourage survivors of sexual offences to report these matters even if the incident took place many years ago. The statement noted that the Amendment Bill will also ensure that crimes relating to the common law offence of bribery and the offence of corruption in terms of the Corruption Act 94 of 1992 and offences related to the acquisition of a private interest, being an accessory to corruption, or aiding and abetting corruption in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act 12 of 2004 are also no longer subject to a time limitation in order to institute a prosecution.

Recognition of Customary Marriages Bill

The statement pointed out that in the judgment of Ramuhovhi and Others v President of the Republic of South Africa and Others 2018 (2) SA 1 (CC), the Constitutional Court found s 7(1) of the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act 120 of 1998 (the RCMA) to be inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid in that it discriminates unfairly against women in polygamous customary marriages entered into before the commencement of the RCMA (so-called ‘pre-Act monogamous and polygamous customary marriages’) on the basis of gender and race, ethnic or social origin. Section 7(1) of the RCMA provides that the proprietary consequences of customary marriages entered into before the commencement of the RCMA continue to be governed by customary law, in terms of which, wives have no right of ownership and control over marital property, which right is reserved solely for the husband.

The statement said that the Amendment Bill now provides that the proprietary consequences of customary marriage in which a person is a spouse in more than one customary marriage, which was entered into before the commencement of the RCMA, are that the spouses in such marriage have joint and equal ownership and other rights, as well as equal rights of management and control over marital properties.

Kgomotso Ramotsho Cert Journ (Boston) Cert Photography (Vega) is the news reporter at De Rebus.

 

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