Dept worries over sex offences ruling

2013-01-15 22:16
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Johannesburg - The justice department will study a ruling by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria against certain sections of the Sexual Offences Amendment Act, an official said on Tuesday.

Judge Pierre Rabie ruled earlier in the day that sections 15 and 16 of the act, which criminalise "consensual penetration" between children younger than 16 and older than 12, as well as section 56 (2)(b) of the act, were unconstitutional.

Justice spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said the department was "reflecting on all the legal issues canvassed" in the ruling to see whether there were valid grounds for an appeal.

"This judgment has far-reaching implications in the escalating rate of sexual violence among children under the age of 16 years, as seen in many cases dealt with by law enforcement and our courts," he said in a statement.

"The decision to appeal or not will be determined after a proper analysis of the judgment and will take into consideration the interest and rights of the children as dictated by the Constitution."

The case was brought by the Teddy Bear Clinic for Abused Children and Resources Aimed at the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

The two organisations argued the sections often resulted in many underage pregnant girls not wanting to have abortions at clinics, as this would lead to criminal charges against them and their partners.

It said the provisions infringe on their rights, and expose them to the trauma of the criminal justice system.

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