“The Action Society legal team has sent a formal request to the information officer at the Department of Justice and Correctional Services in terms of Section 18(1) of PAIA to request information on the current state of the NRSO,” announced Ian Cameron, Director of Community Safety at Action Society.
The National Register for Sex Offenders (NRSO) was implemented thirteen years ago to curb the prevalence of sexual offences against children and mentally disabled people in South Africa. The NRSO is a record of names of those found guilty of sexual offences against children and mentally disabled people. It gives employers in the public or private sectors such as schools, crèches and hospitals the right to check that the person being hired is fit to work with children or mentally disabled people.
“This can only happen if this register is kept up to date, which is unfortunately not the case,” said Rentia Mynhardt, spokesperson for Action Society. “Action Society received information from different institutions where it is stated that no feedback at all has ever been received from the Department after applying for NRSO clearance certificates. After several attempts to get more precise information on the current state of the register, we have asked our legal team to formally request this information from the Department.”
Action Society wants answers on the following:
- How many applications for clearance certificates have been received by the NRSP since January 2012?
- How many clearance certificates were issued by the NRSO since January 2012?
- How large is the backlog in responding to applications for clearance certificates?
- What steps are being taken to reduce the purported backlog?
- What was the annual budget for the NRSO in the financial years 2019/20, 2020/21 and 2021/22?
- How many people are employed by the NRSO?
“The purpose of the request for access to information is to ascertain whether the NRSO is handled with the urgency it deserves. A backlog of 3 000 means that there are potentially 3 000 sexual offenders applying for jobs at schools and institutions for mentally disabled people without any warning to employers,” Mynhardt emphasised.
“Acting as a voice to, among others, children and mentally disabled people, Action Society feels that with the current crime situation in South Africa being out of control, even the smallest backlog of the NRSO can have terrifying results. We are awaiting answers from the Department of Justice, and we really hope that the current situation is receiving urgent attention,” Mynhardt concludes.
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