Parliament has passed the Prescription in Civil and Criminal Matters (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill and sent it to president Ramaphosa for assent.
The bill was tabled in parliament at the end of November 2019.
The proposed legislation was published for comment in March 2019.
The national assembly passed the bill and sent it to the national council of provinces for concurrence in June 2020.
The bill aims 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 regarding a debt that is based on the alleged commission of any of those sexual offences;
• 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 the sexual offence; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.
Sexual offences include rape, indecent assault, incest, child pornography and commercial sexual exploitation of children.
Cabinet approved the bill for tabling in parliament at its meeting on 30 October 2019.
In its statement, cabinet described the 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”.