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Court hears SA sexual offences laws 'irrational' & 'unconstitutional'

The court on Monday heard arguments from the Women's Legal Centre, the Teddy Bear Clinic and lawyers for human rights as well as lawyers representing the so-called Frankel Eight.

FILE: Several people claiming to have been sexually assaulted by billionaire Sidney Frankel as children during the 1970s and 1980s have laid a civil claim against the businessman. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The South Gauteng High Court has heard that the laws governing sexual offences in South Africa are irrational, unconstitutional and should be scrapped.

The court on Monday heard arguments from the Women's Legal Centre, the Teddy Bear Clinic and Lawyers for Human Rights as well as lawyers representing the so-called Frankel Eight.

Stockbroker Sidney Frankel's accusers are trying to have the law around sexual offences and prescription changed. Currently, sexual offences crimes excluding rape expire after a 20-year period.

The lawyer for Frankel's accusers, Anton Katz, argued that the legislation is absurd and irrational and that the guillotine of time is a violation of his clients’ rights to dignity.

Lawyers for the Women's Legal Centre, the Teddy Bear Clinic and Lawyers for Human Rights supported the application brought by the Frankel Eight, but they did differ on some aspects.

They've argued that the change in law should not only be limited to children but should cover all sexual offences.

They're also suggesting that the court give Parliament 24 months to correct the defects in the law, while the Frankel Eight want immediate relief and for the Constitutional Court to change the legislation by the end of the year.

Legal representatives for the Minister of Justice will have an opportunity to argue their case on Tuesday morning. They also support the application.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)