South Africa: Govt to Reinstate Sexual Offences Courts

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Nine sexual offences courts continued to operate in various areas and a number of courts were dedicated to prioritise sexual offences related matters by the regional court presidents.

"The task team has concluded that our current court system requires special courts to ensure an adequate response to the special needs of the sexual offence victims. There are sufficient grounds and a compelling need for the re-establishment of sexual offences courts," he said.

'Prompt, responsive court system'

He said the specialised courts would reinforce the establishment of a victim-centred court system that is prompt, responsive and effective, reduce secondary victimisation, improve skills of court personnel, reduce the cycle time in finalising sexual offences cases and contribute to the efficient prosecution and adjudication of these cases.

"Work in the implementation of these recommendations has already commenced. The department has already identified 57 regional courts for upgrading and equipping with modern technology to operate as sexual offences courts. This work has commenced in the 2013/14 financial year," he said.

"We have enough in our 2013/14 financial year budget to ensure that 22 of those courts will be up and running in this year. In terms of projections, we think that in a three-year period we would have completed properly equipping all these 57 courts."

The department would be opening the Butterworth Sexual Offences Court in the Eastern Cape on 16 August.

South Africa had seen a rise in sexual violence against women and children and government could not remain unmoved.

Radebe said the reintroduction of the courts would "ensure that those perpetrators of these heinous crimes must be brought to book and this is one of the ways of dealing with it".

Acting National Director of Public Prosecutions, Nomgcobo Jiba, said the National Prosecuting Authority welcomed the resuscitation of the specialised courts.

"There are constraints in the budget but as the NPA, we will ensure that these courts are resourced with efficient and competent prosecutors," she said, adding that there was a Sexual Offences Courts unit within the NPA, and so there was a pool of prosecutors to resource the courts.


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