Even after 20 years, victims of sexual offences can now institute a claim or even a criminal prosecution against offenders.
This was announced by civil organisation Action Society on Wednesday following a signed prescription by President Cyril Ramaphosa in December 2020.
“The prosecution of people suspected of having committed sexual offences, are now allowed irrespective of when the crime occurred,” the organisation said in a statement.
“For a long period we were requesting the government to alter legislation which truly will have a positive impact in combatting violent crimes against South African vulnerable women and children,” said Daleen Gouws, spokesperson of Action Society.
“Sexual cases are complex… rape for example is one of the most under-reported crimes in South Africa. It often takes traumatised victims years to regain their dignity to file the crime. We are thankful that this amendment will highlight the issue and encourage victims to break the silence.”
Apart from campaigning about issues regarding the National Register of Sex Offenders (NRSO), the group is also lobbying for specialised sexual crimes courts.
With over 53,000 cases of sexual offenses reported in 2020, according to SA’s crime statistics, the group has proposed that sexual crimes be split from other court proceedings.
“This highlights that there definitely is a need to split sexual crimes from other court proceedings and buildings to fast-track convictions and minimise the victim’s trauma of prolonged court cases.”
Gouws said that specialised prosecutors attending solely to sexual-related cases would take the overburdened workload off the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
The organisation has also called for minimum sentences of convicts to be no less than 25 years of imprisonment, without parole.