Grants and sexual abuse bills signed into law by President Ramaphosa
Cape Town - Civil society organisations and activists have welcomed the signing into law of the Social Assistance Amendment Bill and Prescription in Civil and Criminal Matters (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The Social Assistance Amendment Bill will see the expansion of social grants to child headed households while the Prescription in Civil and Criminal Matters (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill lifts the prescription that after a particular period of time a victim cannot institute a civil claim or a criminal prosecution.
Justice and Correctional Services spokesperson Chrispin Phiri said the amendments to the Sexual Offences Bill will encourage survivors of sexual offences to report these matters, even if the incidents took place years ago, so that perpetrators of sexual offences are not met with impunity.
“This means that these crimes can be prosecuted irrespective of when the crime took place. We are also cognizant of the fact that our criminal justice system still has to undergo more substantive reforms in order to systemically address any secondary victimisation experienced by survivors in the criminal justice system,” Phiri said
Action Society spokesperson Daleen Gouws said for a long period organisations have been requesting the government to alter legislation which will have a positive impact in combating violent crimes against women and children.
“Sexual cases are complex; therefore rape for example is one of the most under-reported crimes in South Africa. It often takes traumatised victims years to regain their dignity to file the crime. We are thankful that this amendment will highlight the issue and encourage victims to break the silence,” she said.
The Great People of South Africa chairwoman Zintle Khobeni said as much as this was a great move they were concerned if the administration will be able to implement and monitor the effectiveness of the bill.
“We are concerned because as an organisation we have experienced how uncaring and unreliable our government is, particularly the criminal justice system, which often fails poor victims of violence and abuse. So we can celebrate this step but we remain with the question: what then after signing this bill? Who will ensure the efficiency of this bill, who will monitor its progress and who should we as an organisation hold accountable should this bill become yet another fancy written document that decorates the offices of the president and Department of Justice and Constitutional Development ,” she said.
Black Sash national advocacy manager Hoodah Abrahams-Fayker also welcomed the establishment of an inspectorate that functions independently which will help to ensure the integrity of the national social assistance payment system.