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Domestic Violence Legislation Under Review

December 2, 2019

Department of Justice and Constitutional Development

2 December 2019

Domestic violence legislation is under review.

The deputy minister of justice and constitutional development, John Jeffery, confirmed this during an address at the Conference on Ensuring Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Violence and Abuse in Cape Town.

In August 2019, president Ramaphosa announced that the Domestic Violence Act was under review.

The president added that the review was focused on strengthening the act’s provisions on domestic homicide and the enforcement of protection orders.

Speaking in August, the deputy minister indicated that the plan is to conclude the review of the act by 31 March 2020 and have an amended act in place by 31 March 2022.

Possible amendments to the act identified by the deputy minister that could flow from the review process include tightening up a wide and open-ended definition of domestic violence that results in different interpretations by courts, definitions of certain acts of domestic violence to recognise technological advancements, to require the social development department to offer shelter to complainants, the responsibilities of each stakeholder to be specified, affidavit for the application of the protection order to be offered online, how to handle counter applications for interim protection orders, extend crimes to include the spectrum of crimes often perpetrated in domestic relationships, the use of intermediary services where a child, a person with a mental disability or an older person is required to testify and the seizure of weapons and the declaration of a person to be unfit to possess a firearm.

The deputy minister, in the latest speech, also pointed out that a draft bill to set up a National Council on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) was being drawn up.

Other legislative developments in the pipeline to support the fight against gender-based violence include amendments to provisions relating to bail to provide for more stringent measures and considerations in certain cases related to GBVF and possible amendments to sentencing laws to introduce stricter measures in certain GBVF-related crimes.