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Law must support victims of sex abuse, says judge

Judge Hartford has ruled that it is entirely irrational and arbitrary to have a random cut off time of 20 years for proscription of sexual offences when many victims suffer quietly.

Picture: Pixabay.com

JOHANNESBURG - The High Court in Johannesburg has found that the law must encourage the prosecution of sexual offences and not hush victims.

On Monday, acting Judge Clare Hartford found Section 18 of the Criminal Procedure Act to be invalid, lifting the 20-year bar on the proscription of sexual offences.

The so-called Frankel Eight, who alleged that stockbroker Sidney Frankel abused them when they were children, went to court to have the law changed.

Judge Hartford has ruled that it is entirely irrational and arbitrary to have a random cut off time of 20 years for proscription of sexual offences when many victims suffer quietly, enabling perpetrators to escape all consequences.

She has found that the law must support victims in coming forward, regardless of how much time has passed and should not smother a victim's ability to bring sexual offenders to book.

Attorney Ian Levitt explains what this judgment means.

“So, anyone who was sexually abused at any time will have the right to prosecute those abusers, who abused them 20 years before and this carries on into the future.”

Activists have described the ruling as momentous.

Activist Miranda Friedman says this ruling acknowledges late disclosures.

“It really shows where our justice is going, it says a lot about late disclosures and now they’re not going to have a time limit.”

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)