Government considers making sexual offenders list more accessible - report

2019-11-21 10:23
Justice Minister Ronald Lamola and his deputy John Jeffery addressing the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services. (Jan Gerber/News24)

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola and his deputy John Jeffery addressing the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services. (Jan Gerber/News24)

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The government is considering making the National Register for Sex Offenders (NRSO) more accessible, but is wary of making it fully available, TimesLIVE reported on Thursday.

According to Deputy Minister of Justice John Jeffery, the country had to carefully consider making the register public, because opening it up could lead to vigilante attacks on those who are on the list.

"If you suddenly discover that there is a sex offender or rapist living next door to you and if there is rape in that community which may not involve that sex offender, they may well get targeted," he said.

Jeffery told Parliament on Wednesday that they were also considering expanding the register to include everyone convicted of a sexual offence.

The Sexual Offences Act provides that names of people who are convicted of sexual offences against children or people with mental disabilities must be included in the register.

READ: Making sexual offenders registry public a 'recipe for disaster' - legal expert

Only employers – in the public or private sectors – of people who look after children or people with mental disabilities can see the register, to check that the person they hire is fit to work with children or mentally disabled people.

Jeffery said this was not enough and needed to be widened, possibly to include all sexual offenders. He noted that managers of women's college residences, for example, do not have to be vetted.

A presentation to the committee showed that there were 32 570 entries in the register and 24 912 of those had been validated.

News24 reported in September that social movement petitioned Justice Minister Ronald Lamola to make the list publicly accessible online, and on mobile platforms that anyone can easily access.

Daily Maverick noted that the register was administered by the Department of Justice and was indirectly accessed by the departments of health and social development, and the South African Police Service. Names on the register cannot be publicly disclosed and doing so is a criminal offence.

 - Compiled by Jenni Evans

Read more on:    crime  |  gender based violence  |  sexual assault

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