CAPE TOWN - Justice Minister Jeff Radebe on Friday said last week's Western Cape High Court ruling regarding the Sexual Offences Act, could open the floodgates for offenders to have their convictions overturned.
Radebe intends appealing the court's ruling, which dismissed a case against a Riversdale man for fondling a woman, because the law does not provide sanctions for certain sex crimes.
The Western Cape High Court's ruling cited loopholes in the Sexual Offences Act for freeing a Riversdale man accused of fondling a woman.
Radebe said two other courts have ruled that where the law does not have penalties, judges and magistrates should use their discretion.
The minister said the ruling was in conflict with two other court decisions in KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State.
“They [the courts] said in cases where the law does not prescribe a penalty or a sanction, it is up to the presiding officer to utilise his or her own discretion.”
Radebe said he will approach the Supreme Court of Appeal to get clarity on the issue.
“We are considering measures to manage potential repercussions where persons who have been convicted and are serving sentences could approach the courts to quash the convictions and sentences."
Meanwhile, Western Cape Social Development MEC Albert Fritz on Friday said he hoped to meet with Radebe to discuss the loopholes in the act.
Fritz said he wrote to the Minister on Thursday as he was concerned that some offenders may walk free.
“We find this incredibly urgent to meet with him and discuss this loophole.”
Parliament has already started making amendments to the act.
(Edited by Lisa Bartlett)