'Traditional Courts Bill must be scrapped'

Parliament, Cape Town. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - Civil society groups are expected to call for the immediate scrapping of the Traditional Courts Bill when public hearings start in Parliament on Tuesday morning.

The bill was first introduced in the National Assembly in 2008 and then withdrawn.

However, the Justice and Constitutional Development department reintroduced it last year.

It has since been slammed as unconstitutional.

The bill seeks to regulate traditional courts and customary law so they are in line with the constitution.

But many said it does just the opposite.

The bill will not allow an accused under the traditional courts system to have a legal representative.

People in rural areas will also be prevented from choosing whether they want their case decided according to civil or customary law.

The Legal Resources Centre's Wilmien Wicomb said it must be scrapped.

“No amount of consultation can cure the bill as it stands. It must be withdrawn and a new bill must be drafted, starting with consultations of rural communities and ordinary people on the ground.”

The public hearings will continue for the rest of this week.

(Edited by Tamsin Wort)