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Lifting of 20-year proscription bar ‘momentous occasion for children’s rights’

The order is wider than expected as it applies to both children and adults. This means that there will no longer be a 20-year bar on criminal charges involving sexual abuse.

Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - Parliament now has 18 months to amend Section 18 of Criminal Procedure Act after the High Court in Johannesburg declared it unconstitutional. This means the 20-year proscription bar on sexual offences will be lifted.

The so-called Frankel Eight went to the High Court in an attempt to change the law which prevented victims of sexual abuse from criminally charging their abusers 20 years after the crime was committed.

This judgment now needs to be confirmed by the Constitutional Court, the declaration of invalidity is suspended for 18 months to allow Parliament to fix the law.

Ian Levitt, attorney for the Frankel eight says: “We hope to actually have the order sent to be confirmed by the Constitutional Court as early as this week and we hope it to be before the Constitutional Court by the end of the year.”

Acting Judge Clare Hartford's order is wider than expected as it applies to both children and adults.

This now means that there will no longer be a 20-year bar on criminal charges involving sexual abuse.

Miranda Friedman from Women and Men Against Child Abuse said: “This is a momentous occasion for children’s rights. I think since 2007 we really have not had a law that has changed so much for survivors of child abuse. What is incredible in this is that both adults and children have been included.”

(Edited by Zinhle Nkosi)