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Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill Tabled

May 28, 2021

Department of Justice and Constitutional Development

The Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill has been tabled in parliament.

The justice and constitutional development department published the bill’s explanatory summary in Government Gazette 44505 at the end of April 2021.

The bill aims to amend the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977, so as to:

• further regulate the publication of information which reveals or may reveal the identity of an accused, a witness or person against whom an offence has allegedly been committed who is under the age of 18 years; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.

According to the bill’s memorandum, section 154(3) of the act provides that no person shall publish any information that reveals or may reveal the identity of an accused under the age of 18 years or of a witness at criminal proceedings under the age of 18 years.

The Constitutional Court, in Centre for Child Law and Others v Media 24 Limited and Others, held that section 154(3) of the act does not afford protection to child victims of criminal offences and that the protection does not continue to apply even after a child accused, witness or victim turns 18 years of age, which it should do.

Section 154(3) was, therefore, declared inconsistent with the constitution and parliament was given 24 months to correct the defect.

The portfolio committee on justice and correctional services will process the bill.

Meanwhile, addressing parliament during the department’s 2021/22 Budget Vote Speech, the deputy minister of justice and constitutional development, John Jeffery, announced that the department is currently refining a Draft Magistrates Bill designed to replace the Magistrates Act of 1993, in order to engage with, and obtain the inputs of role-players, including the superior courts’ judiciary.

“ We are also developing legislation, provisionally called the “Lower Courts Bill” that is aimed at replacing the Magistrates’ Courts Act of 1944”, he said.

Other highlights include:

• Information Regulator – sections 110 and 114(4), to commence on 30 June this year – private and public bodies to ensure compliance with the act by 1 July 2021;
• Gender-based violence bills – department hopes that the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act Amendment Bill, the Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill, and the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill will be promulgated in 2021/22;
• Maintenance On-line Applications system in the pipeline – initial phase of establishing a comprehensive electronic management of maintenance matters.