Govt to appeal high court finding

By Drum Digital
18 May 2012

The government will urgently appeal a Western Cape High Court finding that 29 sexual offences are not punishable because the Sexual Offences Act does not specify penalties for them, The Cape Times reported on Friday.

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe was quoted as saying that he was aware of two other judgments, in KwaZulu-Natal and Free State, where a different conclusion had been reached.

Last Friday, the Western Cape High Court upheld a decision by the Riversdale Magistrate's Court that a man who forcibly fondled a woman could not be sentenced because the behaviour had no penalty under the act.

Other offences without a penalty are sexual assault, consensual sexual acts with children, sexual exploitation and grooming of children, and sexual offences against mentally disabled people.

"They said in cases where the law does not prescribe a penalty or sanction, it is up to the judicial officer to use their discretion. We have two divergent views. The higher courts must bring clarity," Radebe said.

According to the report, Parliament's justice portfolio committee was urgently discussing if amendments to the act were necessary.

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