In October 2013 – in what has become known as the Teddy Bear case – the Constitutional Court declared certain sections of the Act “constitutionally invalid to the extent that they criminalise consensual sexual conduct between children”.
The court gave lawmakers until April to sort the matter out. Dr Mathole Motshekga, chairperson of the committee, said it would tell the court it had not had sufficient time – this despite the order being handed down in October 2013.
“If we go ahead within the timeframe, people will approach the same court complaining about lack of consultation,” Motshekga said.
According to a statement by African Christian Democratic Party MP and committee member Steve Swart: “it became clear parliament has not consulted sufficiently on this bill, given the complex issues and the very short period allowed for public submissions, since the bill was only tabled in December 2014, and the parliamentary advertisements were placed in newspapers only weeks ago”.
He said the consultation and deliberation process being extended was not guaranteed. In the original case – The Teddy Bear Clinic for Abused Children and Another vs Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and Another – the court said the “provisions were declared invalid only to the extent they criminalise consensual sexual conduct between adolescents.
“The criminal prohibitions against non-consensual sexual conduct with children of any age, and against sexual activity between adults and older children on the one hand, and adolescents on the other hand, remain in place.”