Traditional Courts Bill public hearings in the Free State

The Traditional Courts Bill sparked an outcry in 2008 when tabled in the National Assembly (NA). The Bill was reintroduced in the National Council of Provinces this January. As part of the legislative process, public hearings on the Bill will take place in the Free State province as follows:

  • 14 May: 09h00 at Tshiya Education Resources Centre, Qwa qwa 16 May: 09h00 at Elksa Church, Oppermansgronde
  • 17 May: 09h00 at Refentse Primary School, Thaba Nchu

The Traditional Courts Bill will directly affect at least 17 million South Africans by depriving them of basic rights. The Alliance for Rural Democracy contends that the Bill, in its current form, undermines democracy and constitutional rights and values. Because few rural people know about the Bill and its likely impact, Alliance partners are assisting rural communities in raising awareness of the Bill’s content and implications.

Alliance partners will keep a close eye on the provincial hearings and parliamentary process to ensure they are democratic, and will make submissions demanding that the Bill be scrapped. We are concerned by the extent to which public meetings presently underway in provinces appear to be favouring traditional leaders and hindering the participation of ordinary rural people who stand to be most affected by the Bill.

We call for a new Bill that will take as its starting point the Constitution’s commitment to the social justice principles of equality, dignity and human rights, as well as the rights of ordinary rural people to participate in the formulation of laws that affect them.


The Alliance for Rural Democracy includes a cross-section of civil society organisations that are concerned about the detrimental effects the Bill will have on the constituencies they serve and support. It includes the following organisations:

Community Law Centre, University of the Western Cape (CLC); Corruption Watch; Co-operative Policy Alternative Centre (COPAC); Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC); Democratic Governance and Rights Unit, University of Cape Town (DGRU); Embrace Dignity Campaign; Empilisweni AIDS Education and Training Centre; Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR); Law, Race and Gender Research Unit, University of Cape Town (LRG); Lesbian and Gay Equality Project (LGEP); Masimanyane Women’s Support Centre; Open Democracy Advice Centre (ODAC); Peddie Women’s Support Centre; Rural People’s Movement; Rural Women’s Movement; Section 27; Sonke Gender Justice; Students for Law and Social Justice (SLSJ); Treatment Action Campaign (TAC); Triangle Project; Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre; Unemployed People’s Movement; Women’s Health Research Unit, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town; Women’s Legal Centre Trust. The Legal Resources Centre (LRC) acts as legal advisor to the alliance.

For more information contact

  • Sindiso Mnisi Weeks (Law, Race and Gender Research Unit): Cell: 072 616 8299
  • Desmond Lesejane (Sonke Gender Justice): Cell: 084 5816306