Fight against GBV receives a boost

Thursday, February 6, 2020

President Cyril Ramaphosa has issued a proclamation on the commencement of legislation that establishes dedicated Sexual Offences Courts that will bring relief and justice to survivors of gender-based violence (GBV).

The Judicial Matters Second Amendment Act, which commenced on 31 January, provides for the establishment of courts dedicated to matters related to sexual offences.

“The commencement of the legislation is a significant development in the context of the government’s implementation – in partnership with civil society – of the Emergency Action Plan on GBVF [gender- based violence and femicide] , and the fulfilment of the National Strategic Plan on GBVF,” said the Presidency on Thursday.

The new legislation provides for these courts to have certain facilities and measures in place to render services that will better protect complainants, enhance the quality of prosecutions and evidence to be given in sexual offence cases, minimise secondary trauma for complainants,” it said.

The Judicial Matters Second Amendment Act of 2013 (Act No. 43 of 2013) and Sections 35 and 38 of the Judicial Matters Amendment Act, 2017 (Act No. 8 of 2017) provide for specialised courts that deal exclusively with bail applications, plea proceedings, trials or sentencing in criminal matters that entail sexual offences.

“The commencement of the legislation does not apply to Section 4 of the Judicial Matters Second Amendment Act of 2013 (Act No. 43 of 2013),” said the Presidency.

By focusing on these services, government intends to make it easier for complainants to report offences and to give evidence in trials, as a means of deterring potential offenders from breaking the law. –