SECRETARIES: UMAC, 88 STATION ROAD OBSERVATORY CAPE TOWN 7925, TEL 021 4483717, FAX 021 4485476, EMAIL
Comprising of representatives from the:
South African Police Service
Department of Justice and Constitutional Development,
Department of Correctional Service
Department of Education
Department of Social Services and Poverty Alleviation
Department of Community Safety
Department of Home Afairs
Legal Aid Board
Office of the Inspecting Judge
City of Cape Town
Open Society Foundation
Institute of Criminology, UCT
Community Law Centre, UWC
This submission is made by the Child Justice Forum and is endorsed by all its members. This submission consists of two parts, the first of which will provide the history, background, tasks and successes of the Child Justice Forum (a provincial body) monitoring child justice and the second part will argue for the inclusion, creation and establishment of such monitoring structures at all levels to be included in the body of the Child Justice Bill.
Experience in the benefit of a Provincial Level Monitoring Committee has been gained through the practical history of the Western Cape Child Justice Forum over the past three years.
In 2000 the Western Cape Provincial Administration was taken to court by outspoken opposition members of parliament against the constitutional violation of children’s rights. The issue involved 600 awaiting trial youth detained in the Province, some kept longer than six months in overcrowded and appalling circumstances.
In March 2000 a meeting of Provincial stakeholders responsible for the implementation of the system, most notably the South African Police Service, the Department of Justice, Correctional Services, Social Services, Education and key non governmental organizations was convened to address this issue and was the genesis of the Western Cape Child Justice Forum.
A detailed planning process followed to highlight the key problem areas identifying specific tasks and time frames. This provincial committee oversaw the entire process and over a five-month period the number of youth detained were reduced to less than one hundred. This however requires ongoing intervention to maintain.
At the heart of the problem that led to the court case and which will continue to bedevil the best intention of the Child Justice Bill is poor to non-existent intersectorial co-operation and planning and Departments with no previous history in the field unequipped and unprepared for the new challenges. We believe the lessons learnt through this process and the valuable gains made in managing the Child Justice System are motivation for the creation of such monitoring structures in the Bill.
Over the years the Child Justice Forum have been able to monitor numbers of awaiting trial children, work on the establishment of one stop facilities, champion the utilization of options such as diversion and promote restorative justice – all core components of the child justice system.
THE CHILD JUSTICE BILL
The latest version (August 2002 version which was introduced into parliament of the Child Justice Bill under chapter 11 provides for the monitoring of child justice but leaves the establishment of these monitoring bodies and procedures to be made by regulations.
Section 80(1) of this version of the Bill particularly states that “the cabinet member responsible for the administration of justice must make regulations regarding the procedures to be put in place to monitor and assess the proper application of and compliance with this Act”. .
However, chapter 12 of the draft bill of the South African Law Commission provided for the establishment and regulation of Child Justice Committees at district level, the establishment of a provincial office for Child Justice and the establishment of a national office for Child Justice. Provision for the establishment of these structures was made in the primary legislation in sections 104-114 which also clearly set out the various role, powers, responsibilities and duties of each of these structures.
This submission argues for the reinsertion of such clauses (which adequately spells out the functions, role and duties of such structures) in the body of the Act as opposed to it being left to regulations. This submission further calls for these structures to be established at district level, provincial level and national level to ensure the proper planning and implementation of the Child Justice Bill. To leave these structures to be established by way of regulations, would result in unnecessary delays as the implementation of the new Child Justice System would require substantial planning, training and oversight in order for the various departments to fulfill their obligations under the new system.
The need for monitoring mechanisms at all levels is not new and is recognized in facilities such as the Community Police Forums which provide for both area and provincial boards. The value of having monitoring structures in place can certainly be drawn from the experience of the Child Justice Forum as highlighted above.
In conclusion we believe that the provision for the creation of monitoring structures at all levels and for these to be effective is best done when incorporated in the body of the Act This will prevent any unnecessary delays and will certainly provide the platform and legal obligation to immediately put in place monitoring structures or to alternatively formalize any current existing child justice monitoring structures. The incorporation of the monitoring clauses found in the South African Law Commission version of the Bill also clearly identifies who should form part of these structures, the role they need to fulfill and also the duties and functions which need to be performed. It is submitted that the original clauses be reinserted into the body of the Act as opposed to leaving this to the regulations.
 Members, Dept Social Services, SAPS, Dept. Justice, Dept Community Safety, Dept Correctional Services, NDPP, Magistracy, Regional Court, Legal Aid Board, Dept Education, Dept Home Affairs, Office of the Inspecting Judge, NICRO, OSF, CLC, UCT Criminology