One of the three bills intended to curb gender-based violence will allow for the online application of protection orders if passed, Justice Minister Ronald Lamola announced in his budget vote speech.
He introduced the adjusted budget for the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to a mini-plenary of the National Assembly in a virtual sitting on Thursday.
He spent a significant part of speech on gender-based violence.
“We need everyone in society to tackle the scourge of gender-based violence. President Ramaphosa has characterised gender-based violence and femicide as the second pandemic that we have to contend with.”
He said it continues to erode women’s rights.
“Women no longer feel safe in any space in South Africa. Although the criminal justice system is not a silver bullet, it is critical in the fight against gender-based violence and femicide.”
He said the criminal justice system must respond with the required level of sensitivity to the most vulnerable in society and must place victims at its centre.
“In the past financial year, we have unveiled 13 sexual offences courts across the country which are victim-centric in nature,” he said.
He said there are now four pieces of legislation dealing with gender-based violence, namely, the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, Judicial Matters Amendment Act Recognition of Customary Marriages Amendment Act and Prescription in Civil and Criminal Matters (Sexual Offences) Amendment Act.
“Soon, honourable members, we will be seized with three pieces of legislation which further seeks to address gender-based violence. These will amend the National Sexual Offenders Register, the Domestic Violence Act, and regulate bail conditions for people who are accused of committing a sexual offence,” he said, adding that these bills will be introduced in August.
He said the Domestic Violence Bill would introduce “modernisation in a radical form”.
“If passed, our Domestic Violence Bill will make it possible for one to apply for a protection order online. This will be a leap forward in the fight against gender-based violence and femicide.”
Lamola said in the current financial year, the department would introduce “Femicide Watch” – a “special monitoring system to highlight and track violent crimes committed against women”.