Home  »  Articles   »   Victim Support Services Bill Under the Spotlight

Victim Support Services Bill Under the Spotlight

August 3, 2020

Department of Social Development

The social development minister, Lindiwe Zulu, has called on South Africans to comment on the Draft Victim Support Services Bill.

The Draft Bill was published in Government Gazette 43528 on 17 July 2020 for comment.

The draft bill aims to:

• provide a statutory framework for the promotion and upholding of the rights of victims of violent crime;
• prevent secondary victimisation of people by providing protection, response, care and support and re-integration programmes;
• provide a framework for integrated and multi-disciplinary co-ordination of victim empowerment and support;
• provide for designation and registration of victim empowerment and support services centres and service providers;
• provide for the development and implementation of victim empowerment services norms and minimum standards;
• provide for the specific roles and responsibilities of relevant departments and other stakeholders; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.

The social development department describes the Draft VSS Bill as part of a “critical legislative framework by Government in its endeavour to combat the scourge of crime, in particular gender-based and violent crimes”.

It aims to put the victim at the centre of the criminal justice system in order to ensure that the rights applicable to the perpetrator are also the rights entitled to the victim.

The proposed legislation also “seeks to begin to bring to the attention of the courts the meaning of section 9 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 which provides that ‘everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law’”.

The department holds the view that the draft bill forms a critical part of government’s strategies to fight the scourge of gender based violence and femicide, including the recently approved National Strategy Plan on GBV and Femicide, 2020-2030.

Meanwhile, the Social Security Agency (SASSA), in a statement, announced the introduction of payment method changes for the Coronavirus COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant.

“Beneficiaries can now change from one payment method to another. They can change from receiving their grant at the Post Office to a bank account of their choice or vice versa. They also have the flexibility to move from one bank to another.”

Approved citizens will be able to change their payment method by visiting www.srd.sassa.gov.za from 3 to 9 August 2020.

According to SASSA, the development is in response to the challenges some beneficiaries have experienced in trying to access their special relief grant from Post Offices such as long queues and insufficient funds at times.

SASSA added that the payment of the special grants is quicker if paid into a bank account.