"We, the people of South Africa, Recognise the injustices of our past; Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land; Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.” Preamble to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.
Sunday, 13 May 2012
Flaw in Act could set sexual offences criminals free
On Friday, the Cape High Court held that certain sections of the Act, affecting 29 sexual offences, did not contain any penalty clauses, and therefore nobody can be charged with any of these acts, as they do not constitute an offence. It also has huge implications for people already convicted of such offences.
In addition, this completely undermines the intention of the Act, which was to criminalise behaviours which were previously not crimes, such as sexual grooming and compelled rape.
This is a devastating blow to the fight against sexual offences, which are at alarming levels in our country. Thousands of women and children are raped and sexually assaulted in South Africa every day.
DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Debbie Schafer, will be writing to the chairperson of the Justice Portfolio Committee, requesting him to urgently intervene in this matter, in discussion with the Minister of Justice. It is vital that a Bill be tabled as a matter of the utmost urgency to rectify this apparent anomaly.
For some time now, the DA has been pushing for the re-establishment of the Specialised Sexual Offences Courts, which have been decreasing in number seemingly because of the unwillingness of magistrates to specialise in these crimes.
However, in the light of this judgement, the most urgent task at hand is correction of this Act in order to avoid any further people escaping being charged with any of these sexual offences.