Action Society welcomes the announcement that President Cyril Ramaphosa on 20 December 2020 signed the Prescription in Civil and Criminal Matters (or Sexual Offences) Bill.
The revised sexual offences bill lifts the prescription that after a 20-year time limit a victim cannot institute a civil claim or a criminal prosecution. The prosecution of people suspected of having committed sexual offences, are now allowed irrespective of when the crime occurred.
“For a long period we are requesting government to alter legislation which truly will have a positive impact in combatting violent crimes against South African vulnerable women and children,” says Daleen Gouws, spokesperson of Action Society.
“Sexual cases are complex; therefor rape for example is one of the most under-reported crimes in South Africa. It often takes traumatised victims years to regain their dignity to file the crime. We are thankful that this amendment will highlight the issue and encourage victims to break the silence.”
Apart from campaigning about issues regarding the National Register of Sex Offenders (NRSO) the pressure group is also lobbying for specialised sexual crimes courts.
“According to SA’s crime statistics over 53,000 cases of sexual offenses was reported in 2020. This highlights that there definitely is a need to split sexual crimes from other court proceedings and buildings to fast-track convictions and minimize the victim’s trauma of prolonged court cases. Specialised prosecutors attending solely to these cases will take the overburdened workload of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA),” Gouws explains.
Action Society is also asking for heftier sentencing with a minimum prescribed time of no less than 25 years in prison, and no parole option if convicted.
“Convicted felons should not be released before a minimum of 25 years has been served. To address this serious issue our judicial, executive and legislative branches should all get on-board regarding sentencing. South Africa must set the precedent that these atrocious crimes will no longer be tolerated!” says Gouws.
In 2020 the pressure group also campaigned that the names of all sex offenders should be added to NRSO and that this database is made accessible to all South Africans. After the registrar of the NRSO, Ntombizodwa Matjila, in August 2020 admitted that the NRSO has not been updated since 2009, Action Society suggested that it is privatised.
“If the register is unreliable, it is useless. If government fails to take sexual predators off our streets, it is our right to know who they are. For this we need to ensure that their names are on the register irrespective of when the crime was committed,” Gouws concluded.
ISSUED BY: Action Society
DATE: 20 January 2021