Action Society and Dear South Africa (DearSA) once again urge the public to comment on the three GBV-bills: Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill [B 17B –2020] (National Assembly – sec 75); Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act Amendment Bill [B 16B 2020] , and Domestic Violence Amendment Bill [B 20B – 2020] before 9 July 2021, after which it will be submitted to the president for final approval.
The lobby group is pleased that the Sexual Offences and Related Matters Bill, which was recently passed at the National Assembly, will now allow for public access to the National Register for Sex Offenders (NRSO). This is a matter that Action Society has been actively fighting for and the victory, for all South Africans, was made possible through public participation.
“The harsh reality is that you can’t wait for a red flag before taking action and investigating the people who interact with your child on a regular basis. We need to be proactive in protecting the young lives entrusted to us, as sexual offenders have no fear of the law and justice system in South Africa,” says Dr Rineé Pretorius, spokesperson for Action Society.
There is however still a major concern regarding the functionality of the NRSO. In August 2020, the registrar of the NRSO, Ntombizodwa Matjila, admitted that the register was not updated since its inception in 2009. Although numerous requests for NRSO clearance certificates was logged, the register was not able to aid employers with accurate information. Consequently, there is no control over whether teachers or caretakers in our children’s classrooms are convicted sex offenders or not. Not to mention the status of adoptive or foster parents. It is unclear however, what the current status of updating details of convicted sex offenders to the register is.
The Registrar seemingly does not have the capacity to successfully maintain the NRSO in its current form ̶ current applications and feedback are only being done manually ̶ and there is no electronic procedure or system in place.
Action Society has on many occasions proposed public-private partnership for the management of the NRSO. By means of a partnership with government we can transform the management of the NRSO so that it becomes effective and a reliable tool in protecting our vulnerable parties. Action Society’s expertise, insight and case studies can be utilised to overcome the many obstacles the NRSO is struggling with, one at a time.
“The public has until 9 July to make their voices heard. We urge all South Africans to help shape these draft amendments and make South Africa a safer country for our women and children,” concludes Pretorius.
You can have your say about the GBV-bills here: https://dearsouthafrica.co.za/gbv/