The Department of Justice & Correctional Services has published three new draft bills that are set to introduce harsher punishments for criminals in South Africa.

The Domestic Violence Amendment Bill, the Criminal Matters Amendment Draft Bill and the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act Amendment Draft Bill are currently out for public comment until 31 March 2020.

Speaking in his State of the Nation Address (Sona) in February, president Cyril Ramaphosa indicated that the government will introduce these key pieces of legislation to clamp down on crime in the country.

“We will amend the Domestic Violence Act to better protect victims in violent domestic relationships and the Sexual Offences Act to broaden the categories of sex offenders whose names must be included in the National Register for Sex Offenders, and we will pass a law to tighten bail and sentencing condition in cases that involve gender-based violence,” he said.

Some of the most notable changes introduced by the bills include:

  • Further regulating the granting of bail and placement of persons on parole;
  • Regulating sentences in respect of offences that have been committed against vulnerable persons;
  • Further facilitating the obtaining of protection orders against acts of domestic violence;
  • Introducing obligations on the Department of Social Development and the Department of Health to provide certain services to victims of domestic violence;
  • Broadening the categories of sex offenders whose names must be included in the National Register for sex offenders.

Better policing? 

Alongside these new laws, Ramaphosa said that the South African Police Service (SAPS) would also establish a Crime Detection University in Hammanskraal, north of Pretoria, to boost policing in the country.

he said that police visibility, effective training and better resourcing of police stations are government’s priorities.

“I have prioritised our response to the growing problem of criminal groups that extort money from construction and other businesses.

“Specialised units – bringing together SAPS and the National Prosecuting Authority – are mandated to combat these crimes of economic disruption,” he said

To support the growth of the tourism industry, Ramaphosa said that the SAPS will increase visibility at identified tourist attraction sites.

The president noted that, following the graduation of 5,000 police trainees last year, 7,000 new police trainees have been enlisted this year to strengthen local policing.