Letter to Minister of Justice from National LGBTI Sector

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14 May 2021
For Attention:
Minister Ronald Lamola (Department of Justice and Constitutional Development)
Deputy Minister John Jefferey
Director-General Advocate Dr Mashabane

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development
316 Thabo Sehume Street,
Pretoria 0001

Dear Minister Lamola, Deputy Minister John Jefferey, Director-General Advocate Dr Mashabane

RE: Minister’s meeting with civil society LGBTIQA+ Sector organisations including those serving on the National Task Team on Gender and Sexual Orientation-Based Violence Perpetrated Against LGBTI persons (NTT)

On May 5th 2021, the directorate of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ & CD) met with civil society organisations (CSOs) from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex (LGBTI) Sector.

The meeting objectives were to address the recent surge in hate crimes perpetuated against LGBTI individuals nationally as well as the dysfunctionality of the National Task Team (NTT), the Rapid Response Team (RTT) and the Provincial Task Teams (PTTs).

Since 12 February 2021, there have been a total of ten murders of LGBTIQ+ individuals throughout the country. To date there are 37 pending hate crime incidents on the hate crimes roll with little, to no feedback from the South African Police Service (SAPS) in relation to these cases.

In the May 5th meeting, Minister Lamola confirmed and outlined the failures and limitations of the structures and their inability of these structures to fulfil their mandates in effectively ensuring progress on reported hate crimes against LGBTI persons.

The Minister also conveyed that the National Implementing Strategy is costed at R 26 million to implement and the LGBTI programme was only allocated R2.4 million which is insufficient to execute PTT and NTT meetings.

In a joint letter, last year, dated November 13th , LGBTI Sector CSOs raised their concerns surrounding the collapse of these structures. We received a response that outlined that the DOJ & CD had moved the entities that are responsible for monitoring hate crimes to Court Services. Furthermore, there was promise of a memorandum being drawn up to reinstate the Assistant Director for the LGBTI programme which has subsequently not happened.

At the May 5th meeting between the DOJ & CD and the LGBTI Sector, the Minister asked that the department be given 21 days to respond to the asks of civil society.

The LGBTI Sector is therefore expecting to receive feedback from the DOJ & CD by May 26th, 2021 in relation to the below as outlined in the May 5th meeting:

  1. We would like clarity on whether the LGBTI programme stationed within the DOJ & CD will indeed move from the branch of Constitutional Development to Court Services and if so, what is the timeline and what are the budgetary implications of this?
  2. It was mentioned that the post for the Assistant Director for the LGBTI programme and three supporting admin positions will be advertised by the DOJ & CD. When can we expect people to be appointed to these positions?
  3. How will the DOJ & CD hold the South African Police Services accountable for continued non-attendance at the PTTs as well as the RRT?
  4. It was mentioned that the Deputy Generals of each of the departments sitting on the NTT will be contacted to nominate officials to attend and be accountable at meetings. When will this action take place and can CSOs receive a list of these representatives?
  5. When will the promised senior official be appointed to co-chair the European Union/ South Africa task team?
  6. Can the directorate hold Deputy Director General Adv Gabriella La Foy to account for her unresponsiveness to communication from CSOs and with regard to budgetary concerns in relation to the EU funds?
  7. Will DOJ & CD put pressure on the DOJ & CD portfolio committee to escalate the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill? The ask from CSOs is that the Bill need not wait on the Jonathan Dubula Qwelane v South African Human Rights Commission and Another ruling as that Constitutional Court judgement deals specifically with hate speech and the delay is not an adequate or reasonable response from the Department of Justice or the legislature. It is perfectly reasonable that the Bill could be enacted, with a clause indicating that the specific provisions or chapter relating to hate speech be delayed in coming into operation until a future date. This date could either be confirmed by Proclamation or set for a reasonable time period in the future which would ensure the legislature has time to amend provisions relating to hate speech in the Bill, if necessary, once the Constitutional Court has handed down judgment in the Qwelane matter. This has been done in respect of other pieces of legislation, and there is no reason why the same could not happen in respect of the Hate Crimes Bill.

This letter is addressed to you as a joint effort by the LGBTIQA+ Sector comprising of organisations and significant community representation. We would appreciate a comprehensive response by May 26th 2021 as promised.

Yours Sincerely,
The National LGBTI Sector

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