The justice department will study a ruling by the High Court in Pretoria against certain sections of the Sexual Offences Amendment Act, an official said yesterday.

Judge Pierre Rabie ruled that sections 15 and 16 of the act, which criminalise “consensual penetration” between children younger than 16 and older than 12, were unconstitutional.

Justice spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said the department was “reflecting on all the legal issues canvassed” in the ruling to see whether there were valid grounds for an appeal.

“This judgment has far-reaching implications in the escalating rate of sexual violence among children under the age of 16 years, as seen in many cases dealt with by law enforcement and our courts,” he said. – Sapa