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Court to consider suspending parts of Criminal Procedure Act

The significant decision whether the law should be altered and how now falls on the shoulders of acting Judge Clare Hartford.

Picture: SAPS.

JOHANNESBURG – The South Gauteng High Court will now have to consider whether it should hand down an order suspending parts of the Criminal Procedure Act that relate to sexual offences and how it should do so.

Over the past two days, the court heard arguments from various parties arguing that the law is unconstitutional because it includes a 20-year prescription period for sexual offences excluding rape.

The application to change the law was brought by eight individuals who accused billionaire stockbroker Sidney Frankel of abusing them decades ago when they were children.

The significant decision on whether the law should be altered and how now falls on the shoulders of acting Judge Clare Hartford.

Over the past two days, advocate Anton Katz, acting for the Frankel Eight, has urged her to hand down an interim order suspending Section 18 of the Criminal Procedure Act and for the matter to then go straight to the Constitutional Court.

But the other parties involved - the Women’s Legal Center, the Teddy Bear Clinic and Lawyers for Human Rights - all want the order to be suspended for 24 months to allow the legislature to get involved.

Also at issue is whether the law should be changed just for children or for all individuals.

The Minister of Justice wants the change to be restricted only to children, while the friends of the court want a broader change saying the law should not be altered piecemeal.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)