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SA won, says activist after 20-year proscription bar lifted off sexual offences

The 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.

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 - Survivors of sexual abuse will soon be able to lay criminal charges against their alleged abusers regardless of what period of time has passed since the crime was committed.

The High Court in Johannesburg has declared section 18 of the criminal procedure act unconstitutional, which 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.

Activists and lawyers who came to court to hear this judgment were visibly emotional in response to the decision.

Women and Men Against Child Abuse's Miranda Friedman said: “I’m feeling quite emotional, it’s just like, they won. We won. The children won, everyone in South Africa won today.”

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.

Acting Judge Clare Hartford’s order was wider than expected in that it applies to both children and adults.

(Edited by Zinhle Nkosi)