21 February 2013

South Africa: Sex Crime Cases 'Could Be Fast-Tracked'

Photo: GCIS
A rally against rape and abuse in South Africa

The South African government is in talks with the judiciary to have sexual offences cases placed on a prioritised roll, says Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe.

Speaking during a debate on President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address in Parliament on Cape Town on Tuesday, Radebe said the move came as incidents of rape and violence against women in the country were "reaching alarming proportions".

Tightening legal loopholes

"I am in discussion with the judiciary to ensure that sexual offences cases are placed on a prioritised roll and that we strengthen the case-flow management system to ensure that the chain from investigation to trial stage is watertight," Radebe said.

"We are also considering measures to strengthen our legislative framework. These include aspects relating to bail, admission of evidence and sentencing of perpetrators of this heinous crime.

"We are moving steadfastly to combat this barbaric conduct by merciless perpetrators who show no respect to the right of women to enjoy the freedom of their security."

Radebe added that the government had taken "a conscious decision to re-establish sexual offences courts to complement the work of the sexual offences unit in the police".

Zuma calls for unity in action

In his State of the Nation Address last week, President Jacob Zuma said that brutality and cruelty to women was unacceptable and had no place in South Africa, and urged the country's law enforcement agencies to treat such cases with the utmost urgency.

Zuma said the brutal gang rape and murder of Anene Booysen and other women and girls in recent times had brought into sharp focus the need for unity in action to eradicate this scourge.

He applauded all sectors for the awareness campaigns that had taken place already, and urged the National Council on Gender Based Violence to make combating violence against women an everyday campaign.

During Tuesday's debate on Zuma's address, the leader of the opposition, the Democratic Alliance's (DA's) Lindiwe Mazibuko, commended Zuma's statement condemning the rape of Anene Booysen.

"Our country is tired and our country is sore," said Mazibuko, encouraging the President to hold a national debate on rape and sexual assault.


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