Johannesburg High Court scraps

Photo Credit – SABC Digital/YouTube

Johannesburg High Court scraps law protecting sex offenders from historical offences

Under the present law, the right to initiate prosecution lapses after 20 years for crimes of sexual assault.

Johannesburg High Court scraps

Photo Credit – SABC Digital/YouTube

The ruling comes after lawyers representing the eight people allegedly abused by late billionaire Sydney Frankel challenged section 18 of the CPA.

They wanted the law that gives a 20-year ‘expiry date’ to sexual assault claims ruled unconstitutional, arguing that the current limitation infringed on their right to dignity.

Current law cannot initiate a prosecution for sexual assault committed 20 or more years ago. This law does not apply to rape, however, nor is it applicable to murder, kidnapping or treason.

Read: Education Department has not screened any new teachers against the National Sexual Offenders Register 

The court came round to the “Frankel Eight’s” way of thinking. Although it hasn’t been officially lifted – they still must seek approval from the Constitutional Court – the legal team behind the campaign are confident that the immunity for historical sexual offences will be consigned to the history books where it belongs.

Sydney Frankel died of cancer in Johannesburg in April this year. The eight people allegedly subjected to his abuse all pressed criminal charges in 2015, but they were blocked by this section 18 law as the events took place around 30 years ago

Ian Levitt has been the driving force behind this change: The lawyer and the victims he represents have also had strong support from The Women’s Legal Centre, The Teddy Bear Clinic, and Lawyers for Human Rights.

Read: Rand nosedives in wake of suggested constitutional changes from Public Protector

No-one should evade justice via technicalities. This constitutional overhaul is the sort of positive, progressive thinking needed in South African law, as rates of rape and sexual offences are on the rise

It is a change that will protect the victims, and make life increasingly difficult for offenders.