Sex crimes court necessary - Radebe

2013-03-06 22:29
Jeff Radebe (File: Sapa)

Jeff Radebe (File: Sapa)

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Cape Town - The justice minister said on Wednesday that 58 dedicated sexual offences courts will be opened to address a rape crisis of nearly 65 000 attacks a year.

Jeff Radebe told lawmakers in Parliament that the courts are set to be "fully functional" by September.

"These dedicated courts are necessary," he said. "When there are these dedicated courts, the conviction rate goes up, but when we stopped them, the conviction rate went down."

Dedicated sexual offences courts were rolled out more than a decade ago, but the programme went into demise.

With nearly 65 000 attacks a year, the country has one of the highest incidences of rape in the world.

The brutal rape, murder and mutilation of a teenage girl last month thrust the country's crisis further into the spotlight.

"The scourge of sexual assaults against women and children must be dealt with very firmly and with the harsh sentences," said Radebe.

The new courts will sit within existing courts and will hear all cases of sexual assault, including attacks on lesbians and gays.

Statistics show that 363 life sentences and a conviction rate of 73% were secured in the year ending March 2012.

The government reintroduced specialised police units last year and has stepped up the fight to tackle sex crimes.

President Jacob Zuma named battling rape and violence as a key issue in his annual State of the Nation address last month.

A Stop Rape campaign was launched in schools last week, sparked by the horrific rape and murder of 17-year-old Anene Booysen, whose disembowelment shocked the country.

Read more on:    jeff radebe  |  judiciary
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