Court issues deadline for changes to law on teen sex

HUG AND A KISS:  Teenagers kiss and cuddle while waiting  for a change to a key  law -
HUG AND A KISS: Teenagers kiss and cuddle while waiting for a change to a key law –

THE acting speaker of the parliament’s National Assembly has until August to make changes to legislation about teen sex.

In unanimous decision, the Constitutional Court yesterday granted Deputy (then acting) Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli until August 5 to remedy the defects in the Sexual Offences and Related Matters Amendment Act.

In 2013, the same court declared invalid sections 15 and 16 of the act. Those sections made consensual sex between children aged 12 to 16 a crime.

The court had given parliament until April to remedy those defects. It also put a moratorium on all investigations and prosecutions initiated under the invalid provisions to protect the rights of children.

The order stemmed from an application by the Teddy Bear Clinic for Abused Children and Rapcan (Resources Aimed at the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect) in which they asked the Constitutional Court to confirm a Pretoria High Court judgment declaring the two sections invalid.

In his extension application in March, Tsenoli said there was a delay in amending the sections because a Constitutional Court ruling in a different case in February 2014 ordered a third section of the act also had to be amended.

Since the sections were interlinked, parliament found it necessary to consider the amendments simultaneously.

The second ruling declared section 50 (2) of the act invalid. Section 50 (2) made it compulsory for a court to order that the details of a person convicted of a sexual offence against a child or a mentally disabled person must be included on the National Register for Sex Offenders.

In her judgment yesterday, Judge Bess Nkabinde said the court found that the explanation given by parliament for the delay in implementing the earlier court order was adequate.

“Parliament will complete the process within the period without further extensions,” she said.

-Nomahlubi Jordaan

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