President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed into law two bills that will see the expansion of social grants to child-headed households as well as tougher sentences for sexual offences. The Social Assistance Amendment Bill and the Prescription in Civil and Criminal Matters (or Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill were signed by Ramaphosa on 20 December and announced by Parliament this week.
The two bills signed by Ramaphosa will have major implications for the most vulnerable in society like victims of sex crimes and poor South Africans. The Sexual Offences Bill will amend Prescription Act of 1969 and extends the list of sexual offences even after a period of 20 years has lapsed since the alleged commission of the offence.
The Social Assistance Amendment Bill amends the Social Assistance Act and provides for additional payments linked to social grants. The new law also provides for payment of benefits to a child-headed household.
Among other powers, the bill gives the ministers of social development and finance the ability to top-up grants for people who look after foster children without getting a court order.
The top-up will be done in the same way as in existing Sassa grants such as the child support grant.
The Department of Social Development will now gazette its regulations, which outline the precise amount of the top-up grant as well as those eligible to apply.