New law raises minimum age of criminal capacity in children from 10 to 12 years old

Changes to the Child Justice Amendment Bill are currently underway.
Changes to the Child Justice Amendment Bill are currently underway.

On 3 July 2019, Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, presented the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services with a few changes to the law as it pertains to justice and constitutional development.

Significantly, many of these laws are in the process of coming into effect, or being considered by President Cyril Ramaphosa at present. One such change is to the Child Justice Amendment Bill. 

The South Government website explains the main objective of the bill which is to increase the minimum age of criminal capacity in children from 10 to 12 years old, and to remove the requirement to prove criminal capacity for purposes of diversion and preliminary inquiries. 

Now children 12 years and older will have to complete a rehabilitation program as a means of remedying their behaviour, but this will also ensure they avoid getting a permanent criminal record. 

Speaking specifically on the need to review the Correctional Services Act – which is a whole 13 years old – Hon Ronald Lamola spoke of transforming current correctional service centres in his speech, highlighting the need to ensure they become “proper rehabilitation centres”. 

On the Child Justice Amendment Bill, specifically, he updated, “The Child Justice Amendment Bill was approved by the National Assembly in November 2018 and has been referred to the National Council of Provinces for deliberation.”

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