Sex offenders registry will not be made public, despite numerous calls
“The reason is, if we do, we will be violating the [offender's] right to privacy."
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Despite a crescendo of calls for the sex offenders registry to be published for the general public, the department of Justice and Constitutional Development has reiterated its warning against this saying it would fuel mob justice against perpetrators and violating their rights as well.
Build One SA (Bosa) yesterday visited the Rosebank Police Station with the aim to find out whether it was easy for the public to access the registry, however, the department spokesperson Steve Mahlangu said the register would never be made public.
“The reason is, if we do, we will be violating the [offender’s] right to privacy which is protected by the Bill of rights in the Constitution,” he added.
Bosa deputy leader Nobantu Hlazo-Webster said sex offenders were subjected to police clearance which took at least six weeks; however, this did not make it easy for employment processes or the nature of personal relationships “six weeks is a long time to have to wait”.
“If you ask any South African, they can easily name a victim of gender-based violence dead or alive, but the same cannot be said about perpetrators, why are protecting them instead of victims,” she noted.
“It’s names and faces of people we work with, we associate with and people who are likely to repeat the same offense.”
She said it was important that the sexual offenders registry was released for the public, “because by doing so you eliminate the so many potential cases”.
“At this point we need to get to a place where we can prevent GBV from happening and we use need to use every tool available and the sexual offenders registry could be that tool,” she explained.
“But one; it needs to be accessible, and two; there needs to be efficiency around accessing it.”
Women and Men Against Child Abuse’ (WMACA) Luke Lamprecht said the aim of the register initially was to ensure that people who are not supposed to have access to children did not get access to them.
“If the public does not have access to it then what is the point of it? It’s meant to protect the public from sexual offenders, and it’s not doing that now,” he said.
Lamprecht recalled several cases where repeat offenders such as the late advocate Paul Kennedy’s co-accused who was facing more than 700 charges of rape and sexual assault, who allegedly started in 2008, 2020 and 2021 after he was released on bail and had an ongoing trial.
He also mentioned a repeat sex offender who opened a music school after he was released for sexual assault and the school transport driver who raped a four-year old preschooler in Alexandra to name a few.
Founder of the Jasriel Foundation Olivia Jasriel said the register was as good as “nonexistent and not functional at the moment,” as the register was eight years behind and the children’s offenders register fourteen months behind.
“I mean my offender [Bob Hewitt] is still not on the registry, I’ve checked and he’s out now on parole already,” she said.
Meanwhile earlier this year the minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola said more than 3000 convicted sex offenders were registered on the National Register between January 2017 and November 2021.
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