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National Assembly passes four important pieces of legislation

27 November 2018

The National Assembly (NA) today adopted four pieces of legislation, namely, the Cybercrimes Bill; the Child Justice Amendment Bill; the Environmental Management Laws Amendment Bill and the National Qualifications Framework Amendment Bill

Cybercrimes Bill

The Cybercrimes Bill criminalises cyber-facilitated offences by means of the offences of fraud, forgery, uttering and extortion, which are prevalent in the cyber-environment.

This Bill also addresses issues such as malicious communications. It criminalises a data message which incites the causing of any damage to property belonging to, or violence against a person or group of persons which is harmful or intimate in nature, and which is distributed without consent of the person involved (i.e. revenge pornography).

Considering the fact that many acts of cybercrime are committed in cyberspace, the Bill substantially expands the jurisdiction to address those crimes which are committed outside of the borders of the country. The Bill also facilitates procedures which will facilitate mutual assistance with other users of information, communication technologies to deal with the investigations of cybercrimes.

The passing of this Bill gives effect to the resolution of the 53rd National Conference of the ANC which stated that the National Cyber Security Policy should be put in place to prevent the distribution of harmful and anti-social content. It further resolved that the National Policy should also deal with the security of the High-Speed Internet Networks (cyber security) to ensure information security, including the protection of vulnerable sectors of society such as children.

Child Justice Amendment Bill

The Child Justice Act of 2008 is a piece of legislation which addresses the issue of children in conflict with the law. Under the Child Justice Act (Principal Act), children under the age of ten (10) are deemed to lack the criminal capacity to be charged criminally. Section 7 of the Act provides that a child under the age of 10 who commits an offence is presumed not have criminal capacity and cannot be arrested nor prosecuted.

The Child Justice Amendment Bill therefore seeks to amend the Child Justice Act, so as to, among other, regulate the minimum age of criminal capacity and to further regulate the provisions relating to the decision to prosecute a child who is 12 years or older but under the age of 14 years.

The Bill also seeks to establish a criminal justice system for children, by, among others, creating, as a central feature, the possibility of diverting matters involving children who have committed offences away from the criminal justice system, while children whose matters are not diverted, are to be dealt with in the criminal justice system in child justice courts. It therefore promotes the spirit of Ubuntu in the child justice system and entrenches principles of restorative justice.

This Bill is in keeping with ANC policy which favours restorative justice over penal considerations, and promotes the meaningful reintegration of offenders in the mainstream society as an important consideration. The Bill is also in keeping with international law position on children in conflict with the law and the general principle of law regarding appreciation of wrongfulness for criminal liability.

Environmental Management Laws Amendment Bill

The National Environmental Management Law Amendment Bill provides clarity on certain matters and textual amendments by strengthening the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) on key areas such as: NEMA Principles; integrated environmental management; one environmental system; compliance and enforcement measures; biodiversity and conservation measures; air quality management; waste management; and integrated coastal management.

The Amendment Bill introduces new clauses that provides for payment of administrative fine not exceeding R10 million; a clause that any person may appeal against a decision made by the licensing authority, in the case of municipalities, to the municipal council; and lastly a clause that no person may conduct commercial prospecting, mining, exploration, production or activities related to prospecting, mining, exploration or production without the approval of the Minister of Environmental Affairs and the Cabinet member responsible for mineral and energy affairs.

The Amendment Bill promotes diversity in the environmental management sector through the introduction of a new environmental management principle which will ensure, among other, the full utilisation of one process for information gathering to inform all decision-making related to the proposed development and to allow for the issue of integrated licences and authorisations.

National Qualifications Framework Amendment Bill

The National Qualifications Framework Amendment Bill seeks to create an enabling mechanism for the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) to have legislative competence to address challenges with regard to fraudulent or misrepresented qualification. In this regard, a provision is made for the referral of all qualifications presented for study, employment or appointment to SAQA for verification or evaluation. Furthermore, a provision is also made for the referral of fraudulent qualifications to the relevant professional body and for offences in respect of fraudulent qualifications.

SAQA is also empowered to establish and maintain registers for professional designations, misrepresented qualifications and fraudulent qualifications. The Bill further empowers SAQA to evaluate foreign qualifications and fraudulent qualifications and to formulate and publish criteria for evaluating foreign qualifications.

A provision has also been made to allow SAQA, as the body with overall responsibility for the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and for the coordination of the sub- frameworks, to be consulted with the Qualifications Council (QC) advise the Minister on matters relating to their sub- frameworks. The rational for this amendment is to mitigate the current situation where QSs do not consult with the SAQA about issues pertaining to the development and management of their sub-frameworks, and other matters related to their quality assurance role. This situation creates a risk for the enduring public credibility of the NQF and the quality assurance regime.

The adoption of the National Qualifications Framework Amendment Bill is a positive step towards ensuring credibility in acquiring qualifications. As the Minister of Higher Education and Training, comrade Naledi Pandor, had raised concerns on the increase of the number of fraudulent qualifications, this Amendment Bill will create an enabling mechanism for SAQA to have legislative competence to address challenges with regards to fraudulent or misrepresented qualifications.

All four Bills will be sent to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for concurrence.

Ends.

Issued by the Office of the ANC Chief Whip, comrade Jackson Mthembu.

Enquiries:
Nonceba Mhlauli
Spokesperson
0726233462

     
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