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ACDP: Statement by Steve Swart, African Christian Democratic Party MP, calling for an urgent parliamentary briefing (13/05/2012)

13th May 2012

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ACDP MP and long-standing member of the Justice and Constitutional Development Portfolio Committee, Steve Swart, has called for an urgent Justice Portfolio Committee briefing with a view to possibly amend the sexual offences legislation following a shock ruling by a full bench of the Western Cape High Court.
“The ACDP is extremely concerned about the implications of a full bench decision of the Western Cape High Court for pending sexual assault cases in the province. While one would have to study the full judgement to understand the rationale behind the decision, it appears that anyone accused of crimes in terms of the new sexual offences legislation cannot be formally charged as there are no prescribed sentences for at least 29 offences listed in the Act.
If this is so, it is clearly a very serious omission that has far-reaching implications as sexual offenders may now be able to apply to have their charges squashed, or even worse, their convictions overturned. This cannot be tolerated as sexual offences are reaching endemic proportions in the country.
We in the Justice and Constitutional Development Portfolio Committee would need to study the judgement and, if necessary, urgently amend the sexual offences legislation to deal with this loophole to ensure that sexual offenders do not escape justice. It may even be necessary to consider passing this amending legislation with retrospective effect to prevent already convicted persons making use of this loophole. We have passed urgent legislation in the past in a matter of days when it was initiated by the committee and may need to do so again in this case.
The ACDP will be requesting an urgent Parliamentary briefing on this judgement by the National Prosecuting Authority in order to decide whether such amending legislation is necessary, and if so, how quickly Parliament can pass the required amending legislation.”
 

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