Improvement to UIF benefits, better cover for domestic workers

After last year’s controversial legislative programme introducing the regulation of labour broking, the Department of Labour’s planned amendments this year are benign and likely to be welcomed by labour unions, says a Business Day report.

A departmental spokesperson said that two were in the offing – an improvement in the benefits of the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and the incorporation of more than 500 000 domestic workers under the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act. He did not provide details about the second amendment. A UIF spokesperson said last year that the fund planned to extend the payment of benefits to the unemployed from eight months to 12 months.

The UIF also intended to extend the grace period during which unemployment benefits can first be claimed, to 18 months from six months. The report adds the extension of compensation to domestic workers would follow SA’s ratification of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) international convention on domestic workers, adopted by the ILO conference in Geneva in 2011. It lays down labour standards for domestic workers and will come into force this year.

Legal Brief, 18 January 2013

UN General Assembly Enacts Global Standards on Access to Legal Aid

The United Nations General Assembly has adopted the world’s first international instrument dedicated to the provision of legal aid. The new UN Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems, approved on December 20, are groundbreaking: they represent some of the most progressive principles and guidelines on legal aid, that are grounded on the  emerging best practices and evolving jurisprudential and normative developments around the world.

The important components recognized include:

  • Prompt access to effective legal aid from the outset of police custody, through all stages of the criminal justice process;
  • A right to be informed about a right to legal aid and other procedural safeguards from the moment of deprivation of liberty and before any questioning, including of the right to remain silent;
  • The involvement of a range of legal aid providers including lawyers, paralegals, civil society group, and university legal clinicians and; and
  • The development of a nationwide legal aid system with designated legal aid management authorities that are sufficiently staffed and resourced and are independent from undue political pressure to ensure effective and quality legal aid services delivery.

NOTE: The Street Law South Africa founder and Chairman of the Board, Prof. David McQuoid-Mason, was involved in drafting the resolution discussed in this post as well as the Lilongwe Declaration on which it was based.

Third National Schools Moot Court Competition

The Universities of Pretoria, Venda, the Western Cape, CLASI at the University of Cape Town and the Departments of Justice and Constitutional Development and Basic Education, the SA Human Rights Commission and the Foundation for Human Rights will be presenting the third annual National Schools Moot Court Competition for senior learners (grade 11 and 12 in 2013) in all secondary schools in SA this year, says a report on the Legalbrief Today site.

The competition is aimed at creating greater awareness of the SA Constitution and the values that it embodies. The best nine submissions in each of the nine provinces will be identified and the selected learners will be invited to participate in person in the provincial oral rounds, in the nine provinces, in May and June 2013. The best four teams from each province will then participate in the national oral rounds in Pretoria in August 2013.

The two winning teams with the highest scores will compete against each other to determine an overall winning team in the final round in August 2013. For more details on the competition, please see Alternatively contact the organiser, Cherryl Botterill, at for more information.

Source: LegalBrief 16 January 2013


Law on teenage sex infringes child rights – ruling

Laws that make consensual s ex between teenagers a crime are unconstitutional, a High Court found yesterday. The Criminal Law (S exual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act had been widely condemned as absurd and unenforceable. It makes it a criminal offence for children between the ages of 12 and 16 to have s ex – even when they consented to it, notes a BDlive report. It also makes consensual kissing, and even cuddling, an offence if there is an age difference of more than two years between the children.

Last year, the Teddy Bear Clinic and Rapcan challenged the Act, arguing that instead of protecting children, the effect of the law was to traumatise them by exposing them to the criminal justice system. In his judgment, Judge Pierre Rabie said it was clear that ‘s exual violation’ was defined so broadly in the Act that it ‘includes conduct (such as kissing and light petting) that virtually every normal adolescent participates in at some stage or another’.

’There can be no doubt that the impugned provisions as they stand, infringe a range of constitutional rights of children,’ he said. Rabie said to subject ‘intimate personal relationships to the coercive force of the criminal law’ was to ‘insert state control into the most intimate area of adolescents’ lives’. Rabie said the Act was overly and unjustifiably broad, but he tailored his order carefully, so that it would still be a crime when the sexual conduct was between adults and children, or where it was not consensual.

Source: Legalbrief, 16 January 2013