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Review of Domestic Violence Act Underway

August 22, 2019

Department of Justice and Constitutional Development

22 August 2019

The justice and constitutional development department has started a review of the Domestic Violence Act.

The deputy minister of justice and correctional services, John Jeffery, confirmed this during an address on the Review of the Domestic Violence Act at an Intersectional Dialogue in Cape Town.

The plan is to conclude the review of the act by 31 March 2020.

Other priorities in the pipeline include:

• to coordinate the development of legislation for the establishment of the National Council against Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) – no target date as yet;
• the amendment of the Domestic Violence Act by 31 March 2022, and
• the amendment of the Criminal Procedure Act to make it more victim-centric by 31 March 2023.

According to the deputy minister, the review is “identifying gaps in the act and is seeking to strengthen the prevention of and response to violence in domestic relationships”.

It will also need to consider both the strengths and the weaknesses of the legislation as well as issues of implementation.

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 also confirmed that government is working on a National Strategic Plan to deliver high-quality programmes proven to prevent GBVF.