Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha’s legal team yesterday asked the Constitutional Court for two more years to work on the legal framework regarding the removal of the 20-year prescription on certain sexual offences.
This occurred during a hearing at the court to confirm section 18 of the Criminal Procedure Act was inconsistent with the constitution in that it barred people from instituting a prosecution for all sexual offences.
This was discovered by eight people known as the Frankel 8 when they tried to prosecute billionaire businessman Sidney Frankel for various alleged sexual assaults performed up to 30 years ago. Because the time period had prescribed, the eight were unable to seek criminal justice.
They then turned to the South Gauteng High Court, where Acting Justice Clare Hartford temporarily amended the Act to read “and all other sexual offences, whether in terms of common law or statute” pending approval from the ConCourt.
While waiting for a ConCourt date and on the heels of movie director Harvey Weinstein’s career and life being obliterated by claims of sexual harassment, rape and assault, the #MeToo campaign by sexual assault survivors blew up around the world.
“I’m grateful for #MeToo but we must be mindful not to be swallowed up in the sensationalism of these high-powered individuals like Frankel,” said Shane Rothquel, one of three Frankel 8 survivors, in court yesterday.
“The bulk of the abuse and the damage to our society is happening in homes you’ll never visit, roads you’ll never travel down and communities you’ll never see.
“Ultimately, it comes down to the person who’s never going to be on TV, never going to be in the papers and living in a rural village, and is abused by her uncle. She then has the ability to go to a police station and have those crimes prosecuted.
“That’s where this court needs to direct its attention.”
Judgment was reserved in the ConCourt yesterday. – email@example.com