High courts to be created in all 9 provinces, DNA bill tabled

Posted 20 August 2013 Written by Wyndham Hartley
Category Justice

Business Day reports that President Jacob Zuma has signed the Superior Courts Bill that will transform the courts system across South Africa.

The legislation, which has been many years in the making, will create divisions of the high court in each of South Africa’s nine provinces. The bill and its companion 17th constitution amendment were approved by all parties in the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces.

The Presidency said in a statement: "Through the act’s implementation, the current 13 high courts which included high courts inherited from the former ‘self-governing’ apartheid homelands of Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Ciskei and Venda will be rationalised into a single high court with a fully functional division of the court established in each province. Larger divisions will in turn have one or more local seats as may be necessary to bring justice closer to where people live."

New high courts will be established in Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces.

In a separate development, Parliament’s police committee has approved the "DNA bill" that will create a DNA database as a mechanism to fight crime.

The approval of the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill by mainly the African National Congress component of the committee comes amid serious concern about the costs of testing large numbers of arrested and convicted people in order to populate the database.

The committee’s chairwoman, Annelize van Wyk, said that she was aware the bill would not eradicate crime but that it would contribute immensely to crime-fighting efforts.

"The bill, which seeks to, among others, provide for the taking of specified bodily samples from certain categories for the purposes of forensic DNA analysis, provide for the use of forensic DNA profiles in the investigation of crime and the use of such profiles in proving the innocence or guilt of persons during a prosecution or the exoneration of convicted persons."

Ms van Wyk said committee members believed the bill would have a particular effect on solving crimes against women and children — "but the committee is not satisfied with the manner the South African Police Service (SAPS) dealt with the costing implications of the bill.

"The SAPS said yesterday they only held meetings on financial requirements of the implementation of the bill in response to questions raised by committee members a couple of months ago," Ms van Wyk said.

Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Dianne Kohler Barnard said the DA and Freedom Front Plus reserved their positions on the bill because of doubts over costing.

Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill_9B_Aug2013

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