Chairperson, the ACDP broadly supports this Bill, but would like to raise one or two issues. The chairperson of the portfolio committee alluded to the issue of our concerns about the search and seizure power exercised in breaking down doors of places of worship. Now, during the deliberations, I raised particular instances of the possibility of such abuse whilst the Bill and the commissioners made it very clear that they have not exercised that power at all. It raises the question: Why are such powers inserted into a Bill when they are not used?
One of the examples I used is that of the Joshua Generation Church. This church is currently being investigated by the commission and we appreciate that it is to a degree sub judice following a complaint that was laid regarding the church's advocacy of moderate and reasonable parental church chastisement, that is, spanking. Now the church, in its view, is merely expressing a religious doctrine of view. You might agree or disagree with that view, but the church has the religious freedom to express that view. The complaint against the church appears to have no legal basis as our existing common law recognises the defence of moderate and reasonable parental chastisement. What the church is advocating is not only in terms of, or in line with its religious beliefs, but is in line with our existing common law.
Now in terms of the Bill, the Commission could conceivably go and use the search and seizure powers to investigate and literally break down the doors of those places of worship, which it has indicated it has not done, but that is the type of power that we are granting. It is important to note that Judge Sachs said the following in the Constitutional Court case of Christian Education South Africa v The Minister of Education when we deal with issues like this:
The state should, wherever reasonably possible, seek to avoid putting believers to extremely painful and intensely burdensome choices of either being true to their faith or else respectful of the law. Now, I believe this equally applies to Chapter 9 institutions. And during the deliberations, I urged the commissioners to be very cautious when dealing with issues related to religious freedom and balancing that with particularly deeply held religious views as this could result in the commission losing legitimacy and credibility in the eyes of the public.
Now, in this particular case, Joshua Generation Church is being, in our view, true to its faith and respectful to the existing law. We, in the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development, have engaged and will be further engaging on this issue, without, of course, interfering with the commission's independence. We will be looking into this. However, that having been said, the ACDP will be supporting this amendment Bill, subject to our reservations about the issues of search and seizure and the application thereof. Thank you very much. [Applause.]