In May 2023, Africa Criminal Justice Reform made a written and oral submission to parliament regarding the The Judicial Matters Amendment Bill [B7-2023] in South Africa. The Bill provides the Minister the authority to decriminalise certain minor offences and expunge existing criminal records of persons who have committed “such offences.” In the submission, ACJR focused on sections of the bill that address the issue of expungement of admission of guilt (AOG) fines for specific offences and COVID-19 related offences. ACJR’s submission highlights that although the Bill should be commended for dealing with the issues regarding decriminalisation of minor offences and the expungement of criminal records related to this, it falls short in providing substance of offences that are subjected to decriminalisation and expungement as the grounds and criteria that must be considered to determine whether or not an offence may be decriminalised and or expunged by the Minister are vague and the scope of these offences are unclear.
The Bill has been passed by the National Assembly and is currently under consideration by the National Council of Provinces prior to Presidential signature. It is expected that some 400 000 convictions are to be expunged.
The link to this submission can be found here: https://dullahomarinstitute.org.za/acjr/uwc-dullah-omar-institute-jma-bill-b7-2023.pdf/view