The national assembly has passed the Judicial Matters Amendment Bill of 2019 and sent it to the national council of provinces for concurrence.
The bill, designed to further regulate the division of assets and maintenance of parties in divorce proceedings, was tabled in parliament in October 2019.
The proposed legislation also seeks to stipulate that the period of suspension of a National Director or Deputy National Director of the National Prosecuting Authority may not exceed 12 months.
The bill aims to amend:
• the Divorce Act, 1979, so as to further regulate the division of assets and maintenance of parties in divorce proceedings in accordance with a judgment of the Constitutional Court; and
• the National Prosecuting Authority Act, 1998, so as to deal with aspects pertaining to the term of office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions and the Deputy National Directors of Public Prosecutions in accordance with a judgment of the Constitutional Court; and
• to provide for matters connected therewith.
Clause 1 of the bill flows from a Constitutional Court judgement that declared Section 7(3) of the Divorce Act constitutionally invalid.
The court found that Section 7(3) discriminates against women married out of community of property under the Transkei Marriage Act of 1978 in that it fails to extend to them the protection of a just and equitable redistribution of property on divorce.
Clause 1 inserts a new paragraph (c) into Section 7(3) that ensures that any marriage out of community of property that excludes the benefits accruing to spouses falls within the scope of Section 7.
Clause 2 of the bill seeks to amend Section 12(6) of the National Prosecuting Authority Act to provide that the period of suspension of a National Director or a Deputy National Director by the president may not exceed 12 months.
The bill also aims to amend Section 12(6)(e) of the act to provide that a National Director or a Deputy National Director on suspension is entitled to full pay.
The select committee on security and justice will process the bill.