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Justice Minister Delivers Political Overview in Parliament

July 3, 2019

Department of Justice and Constitutional Development

3 July 2019

The justice and correctional service minister, Ronald Lamola, has confirmed that the justice and constitutional development department still plans to continue with the parliamentary process on the Traditional Courts Bill.

The minister mentioned the bill during a political overview to the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services in parliament.

The bill was tabled in parliament in February 2017 and lapsed at the end of the fifth parliament.

It can be revived by the sixth parliament.

The national assembly passed the bill and sent it to the national council of provinces for concurrence in March 2019.

The bill aims to:

• provide a uniform legislative framework for the structure and functioning of traditional courts, in line with constitutional imperatives and values; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.

The bill is designed to transform the traditional courts system so as to ensure that traditional courts function under and comply with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The proposed legislation also calls on traditional leaders and those who guide the proceedings to pledge to uphold the Bill of Rights.

Some of the objects of the proposed legislation include:

• Affirm the values of customary law and customs in the resolution of disputes, based on restorative justice and reconciliation and to align them with the Constitution;
• Affirm the role of traditional courts in terms of customary law;
• Create a uniform legislative framework regulating the structure and functioning of traditional courts in the resolution of disputes, in accordance with constitutional imperatives and values;
• Enhance the effectiveness, efficiency and integrity of traditional courts in the resolution of disputes;
• Facilitate the full and meaningful participation of all members of a traditional community in a traditional court.

During its deliberations, the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services introduced new clauses on objects of act, institution of proceedings in traditional courts, nature of traditional courts and referral of matters from traditional courts to magistrates’ courts into the bill.

Other bills mentioned by the minister that lapsed in March but remain on the department’s radar and hence likely to be revived include the Cybercrimes Bill, Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill, State Liability Amendment Bill and the Child Justice Amendment Bill.

The minister also pointed out that a draft Land Court Bill was in the pipeline designed to strengthen the adjudication in relation to land restitution, expropriation of land and land distribution.

As regards the Investigative Directorate, the minister indicated that the necessary funds have been made available for it to commence its work.

“In particular, the Investigative Directorate will pursue all matters that emanate from the Commissions of Enquiry, namely the SARS Commission of Inquiry, the PIC Commission of Inquiry and Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture.”

The minister also declared that the Special Investigating Unit’s Special Tribunal will soon “commence with the task of clawing back the moneys lost through corruption and other illicit flows”.

The Tribunal’s regulations have been drawn up and will be gazetted soon.

The department was also determined to finalise the Legal Services Charter and transform the criteria for conferring Senior Counsel status to eligible practitioners.