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Cape Town - The Cabinet has approved a bill which would see sexual offences prosecuted retrospectively - as far back as 20 years.

On Thursday, Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said the Cabinet had at its Wednesday meeting approved the introduction of a bill aimed at amending the Criminal Procedure Act.

“The proposed amendment bill will extend the list of sexual offences in respect of the prosecution and, significantly, it allows for the charges to be instituted even after 20 years,” Mokonyane told journalists at a post-cabinet briefing.

Read: Expiry date for reporting sexual offences to be abolished, MPs told

The amendment is in compliance with the judgment made by the South Gauteng High Court a few years ago.

The court had found the act inconsistent with the constitution and invalid as it barred prosecution for all sexual offences after the lapse of 20 years from the time the offence was committed.

“The amendments will allow the National Prosecuting Authority wider discretion to institute prosecutions in sexual offences in accordance with chapter 2 of the constitution.”

This bill comes against the backdrop of former ANC MP and musician Jennifer Ferguson laying a complaint of rape against SA Football Association president Danny Jordaan for an alleged incident that took place in Port Elizabeth 24 years ago.

Asked if the bill was motivated by reports on similar incidents, Mokonyane said the reported incidents came when the government was responding to the court ruling.

“The judgment exposed the gaps in terms of our own laws.

“What it (the bill) seeks to do is also to help the vulnerable who can’t, when abused, be in a position to speak for themselves.”

Mokonyane also revealed that the government was mulling legislation that will reduce billions paid in medical claims.

She said the State Liability Amendment Bill provided for the settlement structure of claims against the State that arise from wrongful medical treatment of persons at health facilities.

“This will provide for a reduced impact of lump sum payments on the budgets of public hospitals.

“These amendments will increase the financial resources available to provincial hospitals to provide health-care services.”

In March 2017, the National Treasury told Parliament medical claims against the State had increased from R28 billion to R43bn.

It was reported at the time that Gauteng had paid R2.9bn in settlements, KwaZulu-Natal R243 million and the Eastern Cape R210m.

Mokonyane said there would still be compensation for those lodging successful claims.

Parliament is in a race against time to process as many bills as possible before next year’s general elections.

Political Bureau