COSATU will present its submission on the Prescription in Civil and Criminal Matters (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill at 9 am Friday,6 March, M314, Parliament.This is progressive and long-overdue bill. It will remove the illogical and artificial 20-year prescription for the prosecution of sexual offenders.
Crime is a crime and it should not matter that it occurred more than 20 years ago. Frequently survivors of sexual offences are not able for many reasons to lay charges. Often such crimes occurred when they were underage and only years later, are they able to confront the perpetrators and report them to the police.
COSATU supports the progressive objectives of the Bill. The Bill must be passed as a priority by Parliament. It will be a critical weapon in the war to stop violence against women and children.
However, Parliament and government must be told that they are failing the public, and women and children by the inexplicable snail’s pace with which they process such critical legislation. Government and Parliament were told to amend the Act 2 years ago. This inordinate delay is unjustifiable. It is an affront to victims.
Whilst supporting the Bill, Parliament must further strengthen it. The April 27, 1974 limitation to the prescription must be removed. Whilst the then Interim Constitution only came into effect on 27 April 1994, and hence the 1974 date, this is academic. Sexual offences were still crimes even before 1994. The Constitution states categorically that all persons have certain inalienable rights. This cannot be restricted by artificial dates. A criminal who committed rape on April 26, 1974, must be prosecuted and not allowed a get out of jail free card because of some artificial date.
Lastly, parliament must look at provisions to further tighten bail conditions on persons accused of sexual offences. The cavalier attitude towards granting bail by the authorities to thugs accused of committing rape and other sexual offences must be dealt with.
For further information please contact Tony Ehrenreich at 082 773 3194 or Matthew Parks at 082 785 0687.