Cape Town - Despite a provincial upheaval of the re-election of convicted child rapist Jeffrey Donson, his qualification as a candidate for office is not unconstitutional and breaks no legislation according to the Independent Electoral Commision (IEC).
The provincial electoral officer, Michael Hendrickse, said the IEC didn’t have discretion in law and that according to section 47 of the Constitution, Donson was qualified as a candidate.
Chapter 47 states that “anyone who, after this section took effect, is convicted of an offence and sentenced to more than 12 months imprisonment without the option of a fine, either in the Republic, or outside the Republic if the conduct constituting the offence would have been an offence in the Republic, but no one may be regarded as having been sentenced until an appeal against the conviction or sentence has been determined, or until the time for an appeal has expired. A disqualification under this paragraph ends five years after the sentence has been completed.”
Hendrickse said that moral and ethical concerns cannot be used by the IEC to counter anything in the Constitution and that it was up to the political parties to assess moral and ethical factors of their candidates.
The South African Congress for ECD (Early Childhood Development) is the latest organisation to denounce Donson’s appointment.
Provincial chairperson Theodora Lutuli said that the congress was disappointed at the re-election of a child rapist, stating that this remained a concern for the sector.
“The rights of children are secured in the Bill of Rights, the Children's Act, Child Care Act, African charter on the rights and welfare of the child, and of course in the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child. South Africa has taken major strides in ensuring that the rights of our children are protected and upheld by our most severe laws, in order to ensure their safety. But today, we see how as a nation have once again let our children down. Children’s rights are also human rights and as SA Congress, an organisation working in the ECD sector and representing the workforce, we are furious to learn how these rights have been violated.”
Lutuli quoted Nelson Mandela: "The true character of society is revealed in how it treats its children”. She added that based on this, Donson has already proven that he has no respect for the rights of our children.
Lutuli said that the congress demanded that the by-laws be changed to ensure that no person convicted of rape or any other human rights violation will ever be allowed to run for public office.
Director of the Centre for Early Childhood Development, Professor Eric Atmore, said the re-election was a slap in the face of all children and victims of sexual violence. He said society needed to question the morals and ethics of people that hold public office.
The Justice Desk said that it was appalled at the re-election.
“Taking action is essential, and we will join those calling for the end of Donson’s re-election. Our children’s lives are at risk, and we cannot simply ignore this human rights issue.”
Communications officer of Sisonke National Sex Workers Movement in South Africa, Yonela Sinqu, said that in a time where violence against women and children was so rife, they felt defeated by the re-election.
“Our justice system has failed us over and over again. The mere fact that his previous conviction was reduced to a R20 000 fine, and five-year prison sentence wholly suspended is still a slap in the face. To us in the sex work industry, where rape is a daily occurrence, we remain (reluctant) to report such incidents as a result of outcomes similar to that of Donson,” said Sinqu.
“We are disappointed at both the parties and the justice system for allowing this to happen, especially during a time when we are calling daily for the end to violence against women and children.”