National Assembly approves four Bills

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

The National Assembly has approved four Bills aimed at regulating transport economy and establishing a land court, amongst others.  

The four Bills, passed during a hybrid plenary held on Tuesday, include the Land Court Bill; the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Amendment Bill; the Economic Regulation of Transport Bill, and the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill.

The Land Court Bill and Drugs and Drug Trafficking Amendment Bill were both processed by the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, while the Economic Regulation of Transport Bill and the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill were considered and reported on by the Portfolio Committee on Transport.

Land Court Bill

The Land Court Bill proposes to establish a specialist Land Court, with its judgment appealable by the full bench of that Court to deal with all land-related matters, as regulated by legislation.

Parliamentary spokesperson, Moloto Mothapo, said this will facilitate the speedy disposal of cases and contribute towards the development of appropriate jurisprudence in relation to land matters.

“Notably, the Land Court is established as a court of law and equity in respect of the Restitution Act and has the status of a High Court that has the authority, inherent powers and standing, in relation to matters under its jurisdiction,” Mothapo said.

The Bill also proposes a cheaper and speedier alternative dispute resolution mechanism in the form of mediation. In addition, the Bill makes provision for future legislation (new or amending legislation) to confer jurisdiction on the Land Court, as and when the need arises.

Section 22(1) of the Restitution of Land Rights Act 22 of 1994 (“the Restitution Act”), establishes a Land Claims Court with exclusive jurisdiction in respect of restitution claims arising from the Act.

It also has exclusive jurisdiction to deal with matters arising from the application of the Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Act 3 of 1996 and it shares jurisdiction with the magistrates’ courts, in respect of matters arising from the application of the Extension of Security of Tenure Act 62 of 1997.

However, Mothapo noted that the Restitution Act never envisaged a permanent court with permanent judges, instead, the “Land Claims Court was established as a dedicated court with a limited lifespan to deal with claims for restitution of land”.

“However, the restitution process became protracted and is still not completed. A lack of permanency of judges presiding over matters before the Court and the absence of a permanent seat has contributed to the slow processing of and backlogs in land restitution claims, to the dissatisfaction of land claimants,” Mothapo said.

Drugs and Drug Trafficking Amendment Bill

The Drugs and Drug Trafficking Amendment Bill proposes changes to the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act (of 1992), which criminalises the manufacture and supply of any scheduled substance included in Schedule 1 of the Act; and the use, possession and dealing in any dependence-producing substance, dangerous dependence-producing substance or any undesirable dependence-producing substance included in Schedule 2 of the Act.

Mothapo said during the public participation process on the Bill, the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services received 319 submissions, most of which took the form of a petition.

“Having considered the public submissions, the Committee was of the view that the issues raised fall outside the scope of the Bill and fall largely within the ambit of the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill [B19-2020], which was also referred to the Committee for consideration and report. The Committee recommended that the House approve the Bill without amendments,” Mothapo explained.

Economic Regulation of Transport Bill

The Economic Regulation of Transport Bill aims to consolidate the economic regulation of transport within a single framework and policy; to establish the Transport Economic Regulator; to establish the Transport Economic Council; to make consequential amendments to various other Acts; and to provide for related incidental matters.

Some of the notable amendments the Committee made to the Bill are that it should allow for the statutory participation of Parliament in the processing of the Transport Economic Council and the consolidation of the various transport regulators into the Transport Economic Regulator through a phased approach.

National Road Traffic Amendment Bill

The National Road Traffic Amendment Bill [B7B-2020] seeks to amend the National Road Traffic Act to insert new definitions and to amend others; to provide for the registration and grading of training centres; and to further prohibit and reduce the limit of alcohol in a specimen of blood taken from any part of the body.

Some of the amendments to the Bill include introduction of additional terminology to align the legislation with practical aspects of road traffic law enforcement and administration.

However, the proposed amendments to the levels of concentration of alcohol in blood or breath specimens taken were rejected. The committee recommended that the National Assembly adopt the Bill with amendments.

Other reports adopted during the sitting, include the report of Justice and Correctional Services Portfolio Committee on the “Request for approval of the international convention on the suppression and punishment of the crime of apartheid: adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 30 November 1973”, and the consideration of the 2020/21 fourth-quarter and 2021/22 first-quarter performances of various departments and state entities. –