Minister Fernandez calls for public comment on Victim Support Services Bill
As we draw closer to the end of Women’s Month, the Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez, is encouraging all residents and organizations, in particular those working in the victim support services sector in the fight against gender-based violence, to comment on the Victim Support Services Bill.
The Victim Support Services Bill forms part of a critical legislative framework by Government in its endeavour to combat the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide.
The Bill seeks to put the rights of the victim at the centre of the criminal justice system, to ensure that while the perpetrator is afforded their rights, the rights of the victim is also upheld and protected.
Minister Fernandez said, “We have long waited for the development of a legislative framework that protects victims of violence and abuse. I further welcome that the Bill seeks to rectify this by ensuring that victims of violence and abuse will be equally protected by the law. For far too long the criminal justice system has overlooked the rights of victims of violence and abuse whilst, the perpetrators of these heinous crimes are protected by the law.”
Presently, the criminal justice system focuses more on the rights of an arrested person or accused person in line with section 35 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, whilst limited emphasis is placed on the rights of the victims. The Bill also brings to the attention of the courts the meaning of section 9 of the Constitution which states that “everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.” Victims of gender-based violence, therefore, require this protection and benefit of the law, in the same manner that it is extended to the perpetrators.
The Bill, which was gazetted and published on 17 July 2020, recognises that victims experience secondary victimisation and therefore creates a prohibition against such. The Bill makes secondary victimisation illegal, and states that it needs to be prevented at all times through service provision.
“Gender-based violence sees no race, ethnicity, class or political affiliation. We need communities, and civil society organizations to work with Government to help alleviate the high levels of trauma and violence taking place in our communities,” concluded Minister Fernandez.
The memorandum on the objectives of the Bill and the Bill itself may be accessed on the National Department of Social Development website: www.dsd.gov.za or from Government Notice No. 43528 Government Gazette, 17 July 2020.
The closing date for comments is 16 September 2020.
All comments may be submitted in the following format: Clause Commented on, Proposal, and Motivation.
All comments may be submitted to the following address/via e-mail: By post: The Director-General: Department of Social Development Private Bag X901 Pretoria 0001 or on e-mail: Siza Magangoe on Sizam@dsd.gov.za; or Luyanda Mtshotshisa on LuyandaMt@socdev.gov.za; or Anna Sithole on Annas@dsd.gov.za.