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Prescription Amendment Bill Heading for Parliament

November 25, 2019

Department of Justice and Constitutional Development

25 November 2019

The Draft Prescription in Civil and Criminal Matters (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill of 2019 is heading for parliament.

The justice and constitutional development department published the draft bill’s explanatory summary in Government Gazette 42854.

The proposed legislation was published for comment in March 2019.

According to the department, amendments are proposed to the act in order 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.

The proposed legislation also seeks to amend the Criminal Procedure Act of 1977 in order 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.

Sexual offences include rape, indecent assault, incest, child pornography and commercial sexual exploitation of children.

Cabinet approved the draft bill for tabling in parliament at its meeting on 30 October 2019.

In its statement, cabinet described the draft bill as rectifying “Section 18 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (Act 51 of 1977) that was declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court. The Bill provides for the prosecution of people who have committed sexual offences, irrespective of when these offences were committed”.

Cabinet added that the “proposed amendments will provide the National Prosecution Authority with a wider discretion to institute the prosecution of sexual offences cases that were committed even 20 years earlier”.

The draft bill will be tabled in parliament soon.