North West Rejects Traditional Courts Bill 2012

The North West Provincial Legislature’s Portfolio Committee on Local Government and Traditional Affairs conducted public hearings on the Traditional Courts Bill 2012, attended by 1200 people across the four districts of the province.

Amongst those who attended included representatives from Legal Resource Centre, NGOs, community based forums and the provincial and national Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

The aim of the bill was to affirm the values of the traditional justice system, based on restorative justice and reconciliation and to align them with the Constitution, to provide for the structure and functioning of traditional courts in line with constitutional imperatives and values; to enhance customary law and the customs of communities observing a system of customary law; and to provide for matters connected therewith.

Most people rejected the bill, arguing that it represents the former Black Administration Act, 1927, and that it is like a sister Act to the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act of 2003 (TLGFA).

One member of the community, Mr. Lucas Mekgoe from Rustenburg complained that the TLGFA is a perpetuation of colonial apartheid laws that seeks to impose the disputed Bafokeng chieftaincy onto historically smaller and weaker, (non-Bafokeng) communities settled within the colonially-defined Bafokeng territorial boundary.

“It raises the Bantu Administration Act of 1951, which was under the apartheid era instigated by the former regime, which would bring back oppression and the victimisation of many in the rural communities.

“I demand that this bill be reviewed, as it gives the Chief and Traditional too much power,” said Mr. Mekgoe.

The other member of the public, Mr. Modisaotsile Taukobong mentioned that if the royal families are given so much power, without legal representatives to advise further on cases that may be presented, then this poses a serious threat of victimisation.

“We must all bear in mind that not all ‘Kgosis,’ meaning Chiefs, are sympathetic and fair, we are all going to end up being arrested.

“We are all going to end up being abused like in the former regime when the so called ‘Makwaito’ tribal police used to terrorise us,” said Mr. Taukobong.

Ms. Yoliswa Mfaise, a representative of the Legal Resource Centre (LRC), who also made a submission to the Committee, gave a brief statement to the public.

“This bill violates the rights of Constitution, for instance, we cannot allow an institution that has not been properly governed to govern its people.

“We cannot allow that the Chief or Traditional Leader be the Presiding Officer, and not have legal advisers or the accused not have a legal representative, and instead that one person who may decide an individual fate without any legal background,” said Ms. Mfaise.

This statement was based on the fact that since this bill was withdrawn in 2008 by the National Assembly, it was never amended.

Many felt that the bill is unclear, and does not elaborate on various duties of the members of the royal families, also does not involve the participation of members of the community.

On the other hand, Kgosi Masibi, under the jurisdiction of Disaneng, mentioned that the bill will act in favour of the rural community.

“This bill will assist those who do not have the resources of travelling long distances to seek justice, it will be cost effective, and court proceedings will be fair and short unlike the mainstream courts which take long to solve a case and expensive.

Hon. Mothupi welcomed all inputs and submissions and assured the community at large that all matters raised concerning the bill will be highly considered.

“The views and inputs from all affected communities, especially those who live in rural areas, where there are traditional councils are very critical.

“We therefore are in a position as the province, to send all matters raised to the National Council of Provinces,” said Hon. Mothupi.

For more information contact

Namhla Luhabe at 079 527 0628.

Issued by: North West Provincial Legislature: Media & Communications Unit
Contact: Ms. Namhla Luhabe – Deputy Manager: Communication
Cell: 079 527 0628