Speech on the Draft Amendments to directives, submitted to Parliament for approval in terms of the Child Justice Act, 2008 (Act No 75 of 2008).
Speech by Steve Swart MP

Issued by the ACDP Parliamentary Media Office

The ACDP supports the concept of Restorative Justice

Mar 14, 2024

The ACDP supports the concept of Restorative Justice, which is at the heart of the Child Justice Act, particularly when dealing with children who are not a danger to society. 

We played a key role in the finalising of this Act in 2008, which incorporates this concept. And this is after we represented the country at an ancillary meeting of the United Nations, discussing Restorative Justice as an option, and this followed this Act.

Now, what do we mean by Restorative Justice? Restorative Justice is an approach to justice that involves the child offender, the victim, the families concerned and community members to collectively identify and address harms, needs, obligations by the child accepting responsibility, making restitution and taking measures to prevent a recurrence and promote a reconciliation. And this is very, very commendable.

Some people will say it is weak on justice. No, most definitely not. It is premised on the acceptance of responsibility. Why? When a child might steal a loaf of bread because that child is hungry, should that child be incarcerated and raped and abused into a lifetime of crime, through criminal gangsters? That is the essence of Restorative Justice.

One of the aspects that is involved in Restorative Justice is diversion options, which where possible impart skills. The Restorative Justice element is based on indigenous legal systems, South Africa’s indigenous legal systems, healing relationships, including the relationships with the victim, and includes an element where the child understands the impact of the behaviour and includes the victim, it is victim-centred.

So, we believe that Restorative Justice programmes can be more broadly used and have been used efficiently when you have family group conferences, victim offender mediation and restitution to victims. In many cases, a Child Justice Court may find that the child is a child in need of care. And I remember specifically when we were finalising this act, how it was important to have a probation officer’s social worker’s report; why is that child committing crime so that that can be attended to.

The ACDP supports this report, amending the directors. Lastly, we want to issue a warning for those adults that use children to commit crimes. That in itself is a severe crime, and we believe they should meet the full force of the law. Let us be reminded of Matthew 18:16: “If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and be allowed to drown in the depths of the sea.” That is how serious this is considered.

The ACDP supports this report.

I thank you.

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