MPs approve sexual offences amendment

2012-06-05 14:38

Cape Town - MPs on Tuesday approved an amendment to the Sexual Offences Act as an urgent interim measure to prevent certain crimes becoming impossible to prosecute in the Western Cape.

The amendment, which was passed by the National Assembly last week, explicitly states that courts have the discretion to impose sentences for some 29 offences for which none are prescribed in the 2007 Act.

"It states the clear intention to create a crime and if the penalty is not prescribed, it is left to the discretion of the court," said state law advisor Henk du Preez.

This omission in the Act was exposed by the Western Cape High Court in May.

It upheld a judgment by the Riversdale Regional Court dismissing sexual assault charges against Arnold Prins on the grounds that lawmakers had failed to specify penalties for those offences.

‘Stop-gap’ bill

Courts in KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State have taken a different interpretation of the Act's silence, and the dilemma therefore exists only in the Western Cape.

Lawrence Basset, the chief director for legislative drafting at the department of justice, told MPs the "stop-gap" bill was crucial to prevent sex offenders going free in the province in the wake of last month's judgment.

But he said the department would push ahead with a Supreme Court of Appeal challenge to the judgment because, if it were to stand, it would also raise the spectre of rendering null earlier convictions for those crimes.

"The [amendment] will not be retroactive, so this is why the SCA needs to give us guidance in this instance."

The appeal is set to be heard on June 12 and 13.

He added: "Everybody is ad idem that we need to have a stop-gap."

Another amendment

Basset said regardless of the outcome of the appeal, the department of justice intended to prescribe maximum sentences for the crimes in question but needed a year to do so in another amendment.

"Already in the department, we have started working on that," he said.

But MPs objected to this time frame, with the ANC's Buoang Mashile complaining that "we've had a lot of bad legislation from this department".

Instead the select committee on security and constitutional development gave the department six months to return with a new amendment bill.

The current amendment now has to be adopted by the National Council of Provinces.

  • Loo - 2012-06-05 14:50

    I wish I knew what this all meant actually.

  • mukosit - 2012-06-05 14:57

    Should we show thumb-up or thumb-down on these "new sex law"?

  • Henk - 2012-06-05 15:14

    And we have to abide by the laws these idiots in parliament think out! Eish Cadre deployment showing results!!!!

      Dean - 2012-06-05 17:11

      Good one Henk, No excuse for there bledi critical oversight of such an important issue leaving our woman and childrren so vulnerable. However did you had as much to say pre 1994 or did you just wake up. No offence henk just a Q

  • Chris - 2012-06-05 15:17

    There was a law passed that gave the various types of sex crimes that can be committed. Some of these listed crimes did not, however, have sentences attached to them which meant the courts could not sentence guilty criminals for these crimes -- no jail time, no fine, no nothing. This is a desperate attempt to stop guilty sex criminals getting their cases thrown out of court. I think we've gone beyond "shake my head" level of frustration and disbelief and entered the "slam head into desk" level of psychotic break from reality.

      Loo - 2012-06-05 15:25

      Ahhhh ok I get it .. Lunch came too early when legislation was drawn up on this type of crimes. Thanx dude I get it now :) I thought that is what I read but I thought """ NOOOO surely that can't be""

  • patrickflynn73 - 2012-06-05 15:26

    "Corrective Rape" of black lesbian woman should recieve the highest sentance as well as any rape whatever the gender. You cannot change someones sexuality. That is their DNA who they are. Plus "raping" someone is highly disrectful and a violantion of one's human right to dignity!

  • Loo - 2012-06-05 15:29

    In other words , the judge will decide in the interim what the sentence should be for the next six months. the question now is. lets say a judge gives 10 years for offence A,, in six months legislation prescribes maximum of 4 years .. Do the criminal get 6 years deducted. Same other way round. Look I'm all for locking sex offender up for life. But this is surely going to become a problem. And jaja Im not stupid for asking this. I just have a relaxed brain.

  • johnny.arnold.167 - 2012-06-05 16:24

    Is it really going to take 6 months to write on a piece of paper *your balls will be chopped off if you are found guilty of rape in any form\, and added to the law? Hell it took me 20second.

  • John - 2012-06-05 16:35

    Why did they break something that was fixed in the first place?

  • Dean - 2012-06-05 17:32

    Someone must be fired if not the whole lot. Did Our woman and children not suffer enough just to have them left vulnerable like this, and while you hopefully consider this also fire. The dame lot that write more and more law that leave particle young girls at more and more risk. Our children's Act must be revue due to the many erroneous \rights\ they pass on to our kids while they should be protected. And not turned into part adult part child.

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