Parliament's adoption of GBV bills is 'a leap that is long overdue'

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Parliament in session.
Parliament in session.
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  • The National Assembly passed two GBV bills on Friday.
  • A third GBV bill was passed by the NCOP last week.
  • The three bills are now with President Cyril Ramaphosa for his assent before it becomes law.

The National Assembly (NA) on Friday passed the two gender-based violence (GBV) bills: the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill and the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill.

After a spate of gender-based violence and femicide rocked the country in 2018, three GBV bills were introduced in Parliament.

Last week, the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) passed the Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill and sent it to President Cyril Ramaphosa for assent.

The NCOP returned the other two bills to the NA, with proposed amendments.

The NA agreed to the proposed amendments and passed the bills, which will now be sent to Ramaphosa for assent.

ALSO READ | New GBV bill proposes obtaining protection orders online

DA MP Werner Horn said passing the bills concluded "a parliamentary process that was, with good reason, a testimony that parties and members from different sides of the aisle can work together to strengthen a legislative framework in order to assist society to deal with one of its gravest ills".

He said Parliament, as the body with oversight over the executive, will have to be "obsessive" with its oversight of the implementation of the bills.

EFF MP Yoliswa Yako said GBV had plagued South Africa for years.

Yako said:

Not only is this a big leap for this Parliament, it is also a big leap for the judiciary, a leap that is long overdue.

IFP MP Zandile Majozi said the latest crime statistics indicate that GBV continues to rise, and it is up to the House to ensure that protections are extended.

ACDP MP Steve Swart said the recent rape statistics were "horrific".

"It is the primary role of the government to protect its citizens, and it is very clear the government is dismally failing in this regard," he said.

ANC MP Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen said: "We do believe that these bills will go further in the protection of the most vulnerable in society and promote and contribute to a safer society."

The bills were adopted unanimously.

ALSO READ | R141 million pledged for first phase of the GBVF Response Fund - Ramaphosa reveals

The House also passed the Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill.

The bill seeks to amend the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977, to further regulate the publication of information which reveals or may reveal the identity of an accused, a witness or person against whom an offence has allegedly been committed, who is under the age of 18 years, reads a statement from Parliament.

This bill will now be sent to the NCOP for concurrence.

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