House Chair, the DA is very pleased to support the passing of this Bill today.
We still fail to understand the rationale for getting rid of the sexual offence courts in the first place. Despite denials from government, it is quite clear from the task team's report that they were disbanded because of the previous Justice Minister, Brigitte Mabandla. They were hugely successful and their closure was unforgivable in the light of the seriousness and prevalence of sexual offences in our country.
This Bill now provides the Minister with the legal power to designate specialised courts to deal specifically with sexual offences, in which case they must be established. The Bill does not, however, preclude any other court from dealing with sexual offences matters if it has not been so designated.
The necessary consultation is provided for through the judiciary and the NPA. Of course, the discretion to designate the courts or not still lies with the Minister, a situation which requires a political commitment to implement these courts.
The current Minister has, at least, at last expressed his commitment to their reinstatement but we are still concerned about the insufficient budget that has been allocated for this. In the current year only, R20 million has been allocated for the re-establishment of sexual offences courts and the Minister has announced that this is for the establishment of at least 22 such courts.
According to the task team's report, the preliminary costing to establish a new court from scratch is R3,6 million. For a court that is partially resourced, the staffing cost alone is over R2 million. On the basis of a simple mathematical calculation, it is thus clear that, for 22 courts to be established from scratch, it will cost R79,2 million, and for staffing alone, R44 million.
We therefore have to wonder how many courts will actually materialise during this financial year. Given that the R200 million that has been spent on Nkandla could have paid for the staffing of about 100 sexual offences courts, it doesn't take much to figure out where this government's priorities really lie. The DA supports this Bill.