Parliament has passed the criminal procedure amendment bill giving more support to imprisoned mentally ill and child criminal suspects.
ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said on Thursday night that the bill would go a long way towards making the vulnerable more protected.
The introduction of the Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill came after the Constitutional Court ruling in 2015 that sections of the Criminal Procedure Act were inconsistent with the Constitution.
“Sub-section 77 (6)(a)(i) and (ii) makes provision for the compulsory imprisonment of an accused adult person, and compulsory hospitalisation or imprisonment of children who lack the intellectual capacity to understand what charges they face before a court of law,” Mthembu added.
The amended bill sought to amend this with the intention that courts be given more powers and options when issuing out orders in matters where the accused person did not have the mental capacity to understand criminal proceedings.
This also extended to matters where the accused, because of mental illness or mental defect, were not criminally responsible for the offenses that they were charged with.
“As the ANC, we view this amendment bill as a crucial step in treating the mentally ill with the necessary protection and human dignity. The ANC in Parliament is confident that the amendment bill in its revised form meets constitutional muster,” said Mthembu.