Cabinet has approved a number of new bills for submission to parliament, including new legislation which focuses on harsher punishments for criminals as well as a bill which will regulate the private use of cannabis.
Justice and Correctional Services minister Ronald Lamola said in a media briefing on Thursday (6 August), that most of the new bills respond to issues raised during the Presidential Summit Against gender-based violence held in 2018 in respect of the criminal justice system.
The bills are outlined in more detail below.
Harsher punishments for criminals
Cabinet approved the submission of the three gender-based violence bills which aim to address a number of issues in the criminal justice system.
The bills include:
- The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill;
- The National Register for Sexual Offences
- The Domestic Violence Amendment Bill
The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill of 2020 will tighten bail conditions for perpetrators of sexual offences.
Warrants of arrest will no longer be a requirement prior to law-enforcement agencies responding to reported sexual crimes.
Parole conditions will be strengthened and minimum sentences increased, while the amendments also aim to strengthen the consequences of contravening a protection order.
The bill also amends the National Register for Sex Offenders by broadening its scope from only children and mentally disabled persons and extends it to protect all vulnerable groups. Persons who are in this register are compelled to disclose this information when they submit applications to work with these groups.
The Domestic Violence Amendment Bill facilitates the obtaining of protection orders against acts of domestic violence via electronic means.
It also obliges the Department of Social Development and Department of Health to provide certain services to victims of domestic violence
Cabinet has also approved the submission of the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill of 2020 to parliament for processing.
The bill will give effect to the Constitutional Court judgement that declared some parts of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act and Medicines and Related Substances Control Act unconstitutional.
In 2018, the Constitutional Court ruled that the use of cannabis is legal for both personal and medical use. However, it is currently still unlawful to use it outside of your private home as well as buying and selling it.
The bill regulates the use and possession of cannabis and the cultivation of cannabis plants by an adult for personal use.
It also provides the limit of the quantity of cannabis that may be possessed by an adult and criminalizes the smoking of cannabis in public places.
Consolidation of funds
Cabinet also approved the submission of the Fund Raising Amendment Bill of 2017 to Parliament.
The bill aims to rationalise the Fund-Raising Act by consolidating the existing three funds – Disaster Relief Fund, South African Defence Force Fund and Refugee Relief Fund – into one National Social Development and Relief Fund.
Cabinet said that this new fund will focus on proactive mitigation of disasters and promote the social development of communities.
The consolidated fund will also assist in streamlining the administrative processes, and enable efficient services to poor communities and reduce costs. It will consolidate the three boards into one, it said.