South Africa: Parliament Postpones Hearings Into Children's Amendment Bill

Public hearings into the Children's Amendment Bill have been suspended until further notice, Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Social Development has announced.

Committee chairperson Mondli Gungubele said the postponement of public hearings is an important step in the context of President Cyril Ramaphosa's pronouncement to move the country to lockdown Level 3.

"The committee is always mindful of the COVID-19 outbreak. The numbers are reportedly increasing at an alarming rate, and the committee cannot afford to expose our people to the dangers of COVID-19," Gungubele said on Wednesday.

Gungubele said public hearings by nature, as evidenced in Limpopo and Mpumalanga, mean a huge turnout of people in a confined space.

"As much as the committee complies with all COVID-19 protocols and prevention measures, one cannot guarantee 100% safety," Gungubele said.

The public hearings were scheduled to take place in the North West, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Eastern Cape in the next four weeks.

The Children's Amendment Bill intends to improve services for children and ensure that their welfare is adequately taken care of.

The bill seeks to introduce the definition of "sexual offence" as a way of aligning the Children's Act with the Sexual Offences Act.

It also proposes creating a "deeming" provision in the Children's Act that makes it easier to find adult offenders unsuitable to work with children.

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