The Portfolio on Justice and Correctional Services today received a presentation on amendments to directives of the Child Justice Amendment Act, which mainly relate to increasing the age of criminal capacity from 10 to 12 years old.

The committee heard that in terms of Section 97(4) of the Child Justice Act, the National Director of Public Prosecutions is required to issue directives. These directives and subsequent amendments were submitted to Parliament previously and gazetted according to the provision of the Act.

Section 97(4) of Act as amended further requires that these amendments be forwarded to the Cabinet member responsible for the administration of justice to submit the directives to Parliament for approval, before publication to the Gazette. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has again amended the directives in line with the Child Justice Amendment Act, Act 28 of 2019.

The Act was amended to amend a definition of an appropriate adult, to further regulate the minimum age of criminal capacity, 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 and to further regulate the proof of criminal capacity. Its aim was also to further regulate the assessment report by the probation officer, to further regulate the factors to be considered by a prosecutor when diverting a matter before a preliminary inquiry, to further regulate the factors to be considered by an inquiry magistrate when diverting a matter at a preliminary inquiry and to further regulate the orders that may be made at the preliminary inquiry.

It also aimed to amend wording to facilitate the interpretation of a phrase, for example, “children used by an adult to commit crimes”, and to further regulate the factors to be considered by a judicial officer when diverting a matter in a child justice court.

The committee also heard that reference has been changed to include the phrase “persons using children to commit offences”, as it was not only adults using children to commit offences, but also other/older children. The directives also refer to the basic principles relating to diversion when dealing with children, diversion of matters at a trial, diversion in terms of serious offences and the different categories of child offenders.

Committee Chairperson, Mr Bulelani Magwanishe, said the committee will schedule another meeting to consider the directives.

Rajaa Azzakani
20 February 2024