The Traditional Courts Bill is before Parliament for the third time. While the current version is an improvement on its previous iterations, the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services seems determined to reverse these improvements. The patriarchal way in which most members conducted the first set of hearings on the bill indicates the kind of traditional court the committee favours. The bill was first introduced in Parliament in 2008, but was withdrawn. It was reintroduced in 2012 but lapsed in 2014 after being rejected by a majority of provinces in the National Council of Provinces. It faced widespread opposition from many sectors of society, especially rural citizens. Previous versions of the bill were opposed as unconstitutional for several reasons: it did not provide for women to represent themselves or participate as members in traditional courts; only courts at the level of senior traditional leader were recognised; and only senior traditional leaders could pr...

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