Cape Town - The draft Traditional Courts Bill is still before Parliament despite media reports to the contrary, the justice department said on Friday.
“The department of justice and constitutional development would like to clarify the misconceptions and misleading statement by certain media implying that the Traditional Courts Bill has been withdrawn by Parliament or has reached a dead-end,” spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said.
The statement follows a media report on Thursday that traditional leaders were angry at President Jacob Zuma after the bill was withdrawn from Parliament.
“In view of the extensive commentary and contributions that emerged during the recent public hearings it is unlikely that Parliament will be able to finalise this important bill before the general elections,” Mhaga said.
“As government, we are hopeful that the bill will be revived by the fifth democratic Parliament that will be elected during the forthcoming elections.”
The bill was first introduced in 2008. Its opponents claim it empowers chiefs to act as judge, prosecutor, and mediator, with no legal representation and no appeals permitted.
Legal experts and rural activists argue the proposed law creates a separate, second-class justice system for rural communities, where women have fewer rights.