19 Sep 1997

19 September 1997


This year has so far seen 42 Bills enacted, with a further 21 passed
by the National Assembly currently before the NCOP. This Bulletin will
highlight some of the most significant and transformatory Bills. While
this has not been a dramatic year in terms of legislation, a substantial
body of legislation has been passed which consolidates the process the
transformation of our country.

Significant Bills Enacted in 1997

The Abolition of Corporal Punishment Bill

Under Apartheid whipping and caning were imposed by the courts as a
form of punishment. Our Constitution says that no person will be subjected
to cruel or degrading punishment. This Bill abolishes corporal punishment
as a form of punishment imposed by a court of law. This includes punishment
imposed by a court of traditional leaders.

The South African Institute for Drug Free Sport Bill

This Bill provides for the establishment of the Institute for Drug-Free
Sport. The purpose of this institute is

  • to develop a national strategy to encourage drug-free sport, by developing
    an educational programme in collaboration with all role-players
  • to establish an Appeal Board to deal with any dispute relating to drug-taking
    and dispensing of drugs in relation to sports activities.

Significant Bills Passed by the National Assembly

The National Arts Council Bill

Under the National Party the arts of the minority ruling class were
promoted and developed to the exclusion of the arts of the majority of
South Africans. A few large institutions, such as the provincial arts councils,
were funded but the majority of artists had no access to state assistance.

This Bill provides for the establishment of a National Arts Council
responsible for developing and promoting the arts. The purpose of this
council is

  • to encourage and provide opportunities for artists to promote the appreciation
    and enjoyment of the arts
  • to develop a national identity and consciousness by means of the arts
    and to promote the right of any person to participate in the arts
  • to give disadvantaged people special assistance to gain greater access
    to the arts.

The Extension of Security of Tenure Bill

This is an important transformatory piece of legislation which guarantees
that rural people who live on land not owned by them cannot be arbitrarily
evicted from their homes, when their labour services are no longer required.
It sets out criteria and procedures that protect both the rights of workers
and of land-owners.

The National Advisory Council on Innovation Bill

Before 1994 the majority of the population were not given adequate training
and education in mathematics and science subjects. The National Party believed
that Africans were incapable of competing in the scientific arena. This
has led to a major skills shortage in this area, which needs to be addressed
if we are going to compete internationally.

This Bill provides for the establishment of a National Council on Innovation
which will

  • advise the minister on the role and promotion of science, mathematics,
    innovation and technology to achieve international competitiveness, to
    build the economy and to develop the capacity of our citizens in these
  • develop scientific and innovation skills by providing support to the
    education sector and private institutions for education and training and
    research and development.
  • identify research priorities and advise the minister on the funding
    of the science and technology system, and the rationalisation of research
    facilities and development programmes.

The Contingency Fees Bill

This is an important piece of legislation because it will provide access
to the civil courts to the countless people who cannot afford fixed legal
fees which up till now have been payable whether a case is lost or won.

  • The Bill makes it legal for lawyers to accept a case on the basis that
    he or she will only be paid only if the litigation is successful.
  • The Bill sets out limits for the proportion of the award which the
    lawyer can charge.

The Land Restitution and Reform Laws Amendment Bill

  • This Bill extends the cut off date for the lodging of claims for restitution
    of land removed under Apartheid laws or practices to April 30 1999.
  • It also aims to speed up the processing of claims whereby someone with
    a straightforward claim can apply directly to the Land Claims Court for
    leave to lodge the claim with the same court.

Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Amendment Bill

This Bill broadens the scope of the Act by

  • extending the age that dependants of workers who die due to workplace
    accidents can receive compensation if their parents could have been expected
    to pay for their education beyond the age of 18
  • giving the Director General the power to increase the amount of compensation
    above the amount laid down in the Bill if the injuries have an "unusually
    severe consequence"
  • extending the period in which the workers have to lodge their claim
    from 90 to 180 days.
  • giving union and Health and Safety representatives the right to all
    information that employers are obliged to keep under the Act.