Photo: Envato Elements

SA groups call for sex offenders to have their details published online

After recent scandals involving sex offenders in our schools, there’s pressure on the government to make predators’ information public online.


Photo: Envato Elements

There are growing calls from sections of South African society to name and shame the country’s sex offenders via a publicly accessible register. However, the Justice Department maintain that these criminals still have a right to their privacy.

In a debate that’s popular all across the world, there’s a particular impetus to get Mzansi on the same track as the USA – the only country in the world where citizens can freely search names of registered paedophiles online. As eNCA report, there are barriers that impede this idea.

What the government says about naming and shaming sex offenders

When a sex offender is convicted of a crime, their name is already in the public domain. But that doesn’t mean any battles have been won: Ntombi Matjila is the Justice Department’s registrar and she told the broadcaster that the US model isn’t one South Africa would consider pursuing, as it could cause serious reputational damage to the innocent.

“It’s a balancing act. In the US, their justice system isn’t founded on a bill of rights centred around privacy. Look at South Africa’s legal system: Let’s say we’ve got someone who we don’t know for sure is a convicted sex offender – but their details are made public – what do you think will happen to them?”

Ntombi Matjila

More security in schools

This topic has recently become a sore point following sexual abuse scandals at Parktown Boys School and Valhalla Primary. Civil rights group #NotInMyNameSA have intensified their support for a public register of sex offenders, and also suggested that the Department of Education must beef-up their own security protocol:

Crime stats for sexual offences in South Africa

The database currently has just over 30 000 registered sex offenders on file. In the previous financial year, there were 50 108 sexual crimes committed in South Africa. The top three areas for these offences were Inanda and Umlazi in KwaZulu-Natal, with Nyanga in the Western Cape sandwiched between them.

Limpopo is the province that has seen the biggest rise in sexual offences over that 12-month period, with a 26% spike in reported incidents. Gauteng (+18%) and KwaZulu-Natal (+11%) are also responsible for some alarming figures, which add to the concerns many South Africans have about keeping themselves safe from predators.