Parliament has effectively been given 24 months to remedy a constitutional defect in Section 18 of the Criminal Procedure Act.
The Act doesn’t allow for sexual assault victims to take their cases to court once 20 years have lapsed, unless it relates to offences such as rape or trafficking.
The Constitutional Court on Thursday confirmed a High Court order that the Act is inconsistent with the Constitution. The matter had been taken to court by a group of applicants who instituted civil and criminal action against the late philanthropist Sidney Frankel who they accused of sexually assaulting them when they were children – in the 1970’s and 80’s.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) refused to prosecute as more than 20 years had passed.
Concourt Justice Dumisani Zondi says: “This court agrees with the High Court’s conclusion that an accused’s right to a fair trial would be no more prejudice in the prosecution of sexual offenses not listed in section 18F than it would be in the listed offenses after 20 years. This court confirms the declaration of constitutional invalidity, but suspends it for a period of 24 months to allow parliament to cure the constitutional defect.”