Sexual offences act flaws a blow - DA

2012-05-13 17:29

Johannesburg - Apparent flaws in the Criminal Procedure Amendment Act on sexual offences were a "devastating blow" to the fight against such crimes, the DA said on Sunday.

"On Friday, the Cape High Court held that certain sections of the act, affecting 29 sexual offences, did not contain any penalty clauses, and therefore nobody can be charged with any of these acts...," Democratic Alliance justice spokesperson Debbie Schafer said in a statement.

In the case, charges were dropped against a man accused of a sexual offence after his lawyer argued that there were no penalties for the specific charge under the act.

University of the Witwatersrand law professor Stephen Tuson said on Saturday that the principal of legality meant there could be no crime without a stipulated punishment.

Schafer said the gap in legislation also had "huge implications" for those already convicted on certain offences.

She would write to the chairperson of the justice portfolio committee asking him, in consultation with Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, to correct the matter.

It was vital that a bill was "urgently" tabled to ensure other offenders did not escape prosecution.

The absence of penalty clauses undermined the intention behind the act, which was to criminalise acts previously not classified as crimes, such as sexual grooming and compelled rape, Schafer said.

The African Christian Democratic Party was also "deeply concerned" about the omissions, spokesperson Steve Swart said in a statement.

The possibility that charges against sexual offenders convicted under the act could be overturned "cannot be tolerated" because sexual crimes were reaching "endemic proportions" in South Africa.

Swart, who is a member of the justice and constitutional development portfolio committee, said amendments to the legislation might be needed to close the gaps exposed by Friday's court ruling.

"It may even be necessary to consider passing this amending legislation with retrospective effect to prevent already convicted persons making use of this loophole."

He said the ACDP would ask for an urgent parliamentary briefing by the National Prosecuting Authority to decide whether amendments to the law would be necessary.

  • Sharon - 2012-05-13 17:46

    A stuff up of astronomical proportions. Are the people who write these acts even slightly familiar with the law? I say, mr rapist, we can arrest you, and we can prosecute you, but hell, we can't punish you, because some dumbscull forgot that bit when they concocted the act!

      Warwick - 2012-05-14 08:18

      Street justice like in the townships is the only way now. If you and your community catch a person red handed doing something wrong sort it out right there. Most of the times the cops arriving on the scene cant even take a decent statement and will leave it riddled with misspellng and wrong names and then probably lose it. So no worries to the community.

  • Thapelo - 2012-05-13 17:55

    the same hole zuma used

  • Marnus - 2012-05-13 18:10

    A question for the people with knowledge of how the judicial system can the omission of a prescribed sentence make a crime not prosecutable/punishable. Is sentencing not in the hands of the judge or magistrate? Very often one reads of a criminal getting a short or suspended sentence instead of a jail-term and that all on the grounds of what the judge decided, or is leniency also prescribed?

      jonathan.jacobs.359 - 2012-05-13 19:18

      There is a principle of seperation of powers. The legislature must take responsiblity those legal advicers are useless. It's unacceptable for those mistakes in legislation.

      jonathan.jacobs.359 - 2012-05-13 19:18

      There is a principle of seperation of powers. The legislature must take responsiblity those legal advicers are useless. It's unacceptable for those mistakes in legislation.

  • Diana - 2012-05-13 19:08

    Reminds me of a whiskey ad saying "No lawyers... definitely no lawyers". Must have been golden times.

  • adv.kuubz - 2012-05-13 19:31

    @Marnus sentencing iz important as it determines in which a matter may b heared(in terms of courts) for 1 e,g and another other presiding over cnt issue sentences dt r out of der juristriction...\r\nLast couse diz iz a criminal case 1cnt b punished 4sumthng nt regulated no more how u feel hence da law iz applicable 2minus feelings.... Give dt Attorney a Bells 4exploitng da loophole

  • Joseph - 2012-05-13 19:51

    The anc will make sure these laws fail for they are not man enough to help make better laws come into effect, time for people to demand cut it off for men who rape.

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