Parliament, The Select Committee on Security and Justice has this week adopted the Child Justice Amendment Bill which increases the age of criminal capacity in children.

Committee Chairperson, Ms Shahidabibi Shaikh, said the purpose of the Bill is to, among other things, further regulate the minimum age of criminal capacity. The primary objective of the Bill is to increase the minimum age of criminal capacity of children from 10 to 12 years and to remove the requirement to prove criminal capacity for purposes of diversion and preliminary inquiries.

Ms Shaikh said the Act currently provides that a child under the age of 10 years who commits an offence does not have criminal capacity and cannot be prosecuted. It further states that a child who is 10 years or older but under 14 years who commits an office is presumed to lack criminal capacity, unless the state proves beyond reasonable doubt that the child has such criminal capacity.

The Bill was referred to the committee in the 5th Parliament and it called for public comments on the Bill. The Bill was revived by the National Council of Provinces in this parliamentary term (6th Parliament) with the understanding that the proceedings on the Bill should resume from where the previous Parliament left.

Ms Shaikh said the committee received two submissions. The submission made by the Centre for Child Law was catered for by the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services. The committee therefore did not propose further amendments to the Bill, said Ms Shaikh.

Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa