Revised law to ensure old sex crimes don’t go unpunished

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Cabinet has approved the amendment of the Criminal Procedure Act to allow the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to institute charges in sexual offence cases, even after 20 years of the crime having taken place.

“The proposed amendment bill will extend the list of sexual offences in respect of the prosecution and significantly, it allows for the charges to be instituted even after 20 years,” Minister of Communications Nomvula Mokonyane said on Thursday.

She said Cabinet has approved the introduction of the Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill of 2018, which amends the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 into Parliament.

The Minister was briefing the media on the outcomes of the Cabinet meeting held on Wednesday in Cape Town.

She said the proposed amendments give effect to the South Gauteng High court judgement in the Levenstein case.

“The case declared Section 18 of the Criminal Procedure Act 51, 1977 inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid to the extent that it bars, in all circumstances, the right to institute a prosecution for all sexual offences, other than those listed in section 18 (f), (h) and (i) of this Act after the lapse of 20 years from the time when the offence was committed.

“The amendments will allow the National Prosecuting Authority wider discretion to institute prosecutions in sexual offences in accordance with Chapter two of the Constitution,” Mokonyane said.

Health Bills 

Cabinet has also approved the Medical Schemes Amendment Bill of 2018 to be published in the Government Gazette for public comment. 

The bill amends the Medical Schemes Act 131, 1998, to align it with the National Health Insurance White Paper and the Draft National Health Insurance Fund Bill.  

“The bill, among others, seeks to improve the regulation of the medical schemes industry and to also align the regulatory framework to the changes that have taken place over the past decade in the sector.

“This bill will also ensure that beneficiaries are better protected and promotes better access to private health funding,” the Minister said.

Cabinet further approved the introduction of the State Liability Amendment Bill, 2018 to Parliament. The bill amends the State Liability Act, 1957. 

“It provides for the settlement structure of claims against the State that came as a result of wrongful medical treatment of persons by servants of the State. This will provide for a reduced impact of lump sum payments on the budgets of public hospitals,” she said.

These amendments will increase the financial resources available to provincial hospitals to provide health care services.

The publication of the National Climate Change Bill of 2018 for public comment was also approved by Cabinet.

“The bill allows for the alignment of policies that influence South Africa’s climate change response. It will ensure the country’s transition to a lower carbon and climate resilient economy,” she said.

The Minister said this is an additional step in South Africa’s efforts to implement the national Climate Change Response Policy, to promote sustainable development, and to fulfil the right to an environment that is not harmful to health or wellbeing, as enshrined in the Constitution. –