Lamola appoints expert panel to review apartheid-era Criminal Procedures Act

Minister of Justice Ronald Lamola. Picture: Elmond Jiyane /GCIS

Minister of Justice Ronald Lamola. Picture: Elmond Jiyane /GCIS

Published Dec 14, 2023


Justice Minister Ronald Lamola has appointed a panel of nine experts, which include judges, magistrates, and law professors, to an advisory committee that is expected to repeal the dated apartheid-era Criminal Procedures Act 51 of 1977, which governs criminal proceedings in the courts.

The Advisory Committee on Criminal Procedure Reform Investigation (CPR Investigation) has been formed by Lamola in terms of Section 7A(1)(b)(ii) of the South African Law Reform Commission Act, 1973 (Act 19 of 1973).

Last month, Police Minister Bheki Cele, while addressing delegates at the 10th National Congress of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) in Durban, called for the complete overhaul of the Criminal Procedures Act, saying it was outdated and that it did not do enough to protect victims of crime or law enforcement officials.

Lamola acknowledged Cele's cries at the same event and said the act was “incompatible with the new and evolving nature of society," while confirming work was being done to overhaul it.

The CPR Investigation Panel will consist of:

– Judge Malesela Francis Legodi, retired Judge President of the Mpumalanga Division of the High Court;

– Ms Matshego Jacqueline Ramagaga, a senior practising attorney (Pretoria);

– Professor Lukas Muntingh, a professor of law and director of the Dullah Omar Institute at the University of the Western Cape;

– Professor Nina Mollema, a professor of law at the University of South Africa (UNISA);

– Professor Lorizzo Concetta, a professor of law and associate researcher for the Africa Criminal Justice Reform at the University of the Western Cape;

– Dr Mabowa Thomas Mokoena, a professor of law at the Unisa;

– Ms Colette Ashton, an attorney who specialises in non-trial resolutions and deferred prosecution agreements;

– Mr John Baloyi, a retired regional magistrate.

“Together, the appointed members bring a remarkable blend of expertise and skills across the various thematic areas of the criminal justice value chain—be it pre-trial, trial, or post-trial—cross-cutting thematic areas.

“Their contribution is critical to the overall improvement of the system, from crime reporting to investigation, arrest, prosecution, adjudication, legal representation, sentencing, and rehabilitation, and a system which is victim-oriented,” said Lamola.

Lamola’s office said the appointments were with immediate effect and were for the duration of the CPR investigation, adding that the investigation was one of the flagship projects of the South African Law Reform Commission.

They said the CPR Investigation would see a comprehensive review of the Criminal Procedure Act No 51 of 1977 (CPA) and all other apartheid-era legislation that concerns the conduct of criminal trials in the lower and superior courts.

The department said the review of the CPA constitutes one of the priorities of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Sixth Administration, as enshrined in the 2019–2024 Medium-Term Strategic Framework (MTSF).

“It is critical to government’s quest to creating an accessible, effective, and modern criminal justice system that ensures fair and just resolution of criminal infringements for accused persons and victims of crime alike. The investigation will culminate in a new act that will repeal the outdated CPA,” said Lamola’s spokesperson, Chrispin Phiri.

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