The Traditional Courts Bill was finalised by the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services on 6 March 2019, and will be voted on by the National Assembly on 12 March 2019.
The version of the Bill sent to the National Assembly includes several amendments that were, for the most part, proposed by the Committee itself and endorsed in further consultations with traditional leaders. The Committee removed the opt-out clause that South African citizens have been demanding since the Bill was first introduced in 2008. Once a dispute is taken before a traditional court, it must go through all levels of the traditional court system – headman/headwoman, senior traditional leader, and king/queen – before it can be taken on appeal to a magistrate’s court. The Committee has also said that traditional courts will be courts of law and, as with the 2008 bill, be “presided over” by traditional leaders. With its explicit link to the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act of 2003, the TCB keeps alive the boundaries and jurisdictions of the former Bantustans. The new changes to the bill therefore raise concerns that people living in the former homelands will again be forced into a separate justice system, where they are treated differently to other rights-bearing citizens in the rest of South Africa.
Please join the Stop the Bantustans Bill Campaign to stop the TCB from becoming law by signing the petition at https://stopthebantustanbills.org