NCOP passes Covid-19 tax bills and approves suspension of magistrate who was 'easy on rapists'

During its virtual plenary on Thursday, the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) passed three Covid-19 tax bills and approved the suspension of KwaZulu-Natal acting regional magistrate Kholeka Bodlani, who is accused of going easy on rapists.

Bodlani's provisional suspension follows allegations of misconduct levelled against her.

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola provisionally suspended Bodlani pending an investigation into her fitness to hold office.

The justice department said at the time that a judicial quality assessment of her work "revealed serious irregularities and shortcomings, most notably that a number of her cases had to be sent on special review in terms of Section 304(4) of the Criminal Procedure Act as several serious shortcomings and incompetent sentences were imposed by her."

In a statement, spokesperson of parliament Moloto Mothapo said the three bills passed were the Disaster Management Tax Relief Administration Bill, the Disaster Management Tax Relief Bill and the Prescription in Civil and Criminal Matters (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill.

"The Disaster Management Tax Relief Administration Bill and Disaster Management Tax Relief Bill, commonly referred to as the Covid-19 Tax Bill and the Covid-19 Tax Administration Bill, were introduced by the Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni together with the special adjustment budget on 24 June 2020," he said.

Mothapo said the adjustment budget was promulgated to deal with and minimise the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown and the resultant economic downturn.

"The two bills were passed with amendments by the National Assembly on August 25 and having considered them, the Select Committee on Finance recommended that the NCOP also pass them with those amendments," he said.

Mothapo said the Prescription in Civil and Criminal Matters (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill aims to amend the Prescription Act, 1969, so as to extend the list of sexual offences in respect of which prescription does not commence to run under certain circumstances regarding a debt that is based on the alleged commission of any of those sexual offences.

"It also amends the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977, so as to extend the list of sexual offences in respect of which a prosecution may be instituted after a period of 20 years has elapsed since the date of the alleged commission of the sexual offence and to provide for matters connected therewith.

"The NCOP, having considered the bill, accepted it without any proposed amendments," he said.

Mothapo added that the three bills will now be sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa for assent.

"The sitting also approved South Africa's accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in South East Asia. The Treaty aims to formalise diplomatic relations with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN). It will also contribute to the elimination of tariffs between member states, which will in turn lead to reduced prices and more investment opportunities."

(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)

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