The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has published a call for comment on the Prescription in Civil and Criminal Matters (Certain Sexual Offences) Amendment Draft Bill (the Draft Bill). The long title of the Draft Bill reads as follows:
To amend the Prescription Act, 1969, so as to extend the list of sexual offences in respect of which prescription does not commence to run under certain circumstances in respect of a debt based on the commission of any of those alleged sexual offences; to amend the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977, so as to extend the list of sexual offences in respect of which a prosecution may be instituted after a period of 20 years has lapsed since the date of the alleged commission of a sexual offence; and to provide for matters connected therewith.
The deadline for submissions is 15 April 2019 and should be emailed to Mr H. du Preez at [email protected].
The Draft Bill follows the 2018 judgment from the Constitutional Court in Levenstein and Others v Estate of the Late Sidney Lewis Frankel and Others (the Levenstein judgment), in which section 18 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 was declared to be unconstitutional for imposing a time bar on the prosecution of certain forms of sexual offences. As stated in the judgment: “[T]here is no rational basis for the right to prosecute to lapse after 20 years in respect of other forms of sexual offences, and not for rape or compelled rape. Sexual offences may differ in form but the psychological harm they all produce may be similar.”
In declaring section 18 of the Criminal Procedure Act unconstitutional, the Constitutional Court suspended the order for 24 months to afford Parliament an opportunity to enact remedial legislation.
The call for comment (via the Parliamentary Monitoring Group) is accessible here.
Our summary of the Levenstein judgment is accessible here.
Please note: The information contained in this note is for general guidance on matters of interest, and does not constitute legal advice. For any enquiries, please contact us at [email protected].