JOHANNESBURG - Groups are pleased that Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Justice has decided to consider making changes to the Sexual Offences Bill.
Last week, the Western Cape High Court ruled that offenders convicted of some crimes, including consensual sexual acts with children and offences against the mentally disabled, could possibly be released from jail.
This comes after problems were reported with the Criminal Procedure (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007.
The law states that it is against the law to sexually assault someone, but does not prescribe a punishment.
Wits law professor Stephen Tuson said the principal of legality means there can be no crime without a stipulated punishment.
Justice and Women assistant manager Amber Howard Cornelius said it is vital that the act be amended urgently.
Lisa Vetten from the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre said time is of the essence.
She said changes to the act are “absolutely essential” and need to be immediate.
The committee is awaiting legal advice before it discusses possible changes.
Rape is one of the offences listed in Chapter 2 of the act, but Tusson said rape is covered under the Criminal Law Amendment Act, so convicted rapists will stay in jail.