Deputy Justice Minister John Jeffery says the prevalence of sexual offences in South Africa is unacceptably high. He wants to amend some parts of the law to ensure the effective implementation of the Sexual Offences Act.
This comes after a two-day National Forum on the Implementation of the Sexual Offences Act.
The Forum which included the NPA, SAPS, some Government departments and civil society concluded that the sexual offences act needs to be strengthened.
Deputy Justice Minister John Jeffery says changes are necessary.
“There were 49 660 reported sexual offences in SA in 2016/17. The reported figure belies the true extent of sexual offences, with the real number estimated to be much higher. Suffice to say that the prevalence of sexual offences in South Africa remains high. We owe it to the victims of sexual offences to make sure the act works.”
NPA Head of Sexual Offences, Thoko Majokweni says emphasis should be on helping the victims.
“We see that we convict 72% of the cases that we actually prosecute which is a huge development from when we started in 1999 where the conviction rate was 48%”.
“The successful implementation of the act would look at the quality of services that are provided to victims, the victim centered approach” added Teddy Bear Clinic Shaheeda Omar.
The deputy Justice minister says there is a need to evaluate and amend the act, especially regarding assessment of the competency of children to testify in court.
The age of consent to have sex remains 16 although the current legislation is sufficient to provide for effective implementation of the sexual offences act.