PROF CT MSIMANG MP
This amendment Bill arises through the rule of law and supremacy of our constitution in striking down legislation that is in conflict with any of its provisions.
In this particular instance, we see a unanimous constitutional court judgment being handed down in October of 2013 declaring that sections 15 and 16 of the Sexual Offences and Related Matters Amendment Act were unconstitutional as they infringed on the rights of adolescents to dignity and privacy.
It was further ordered that the necessary amendments were to be brought be brought within 15 months of the judgment. This was however extended by 4months in order for parliament to meet the deadline which in now 5th August 2015.
Honourable Speaker, The IFP concurs with the court findings that the above sections 15 and 16 of the Sexual Offences and Related Matters Amendment Act criminalised developmentally normal behaviour and could possibly have a negative effect on our children for whom the Act was originally intended to protect.
The learned judge in delivering her judgment said that she was extremely doubtful that the introduction of criminal prohibitions could ever be shown to be a constitutionally sound means of preventing the occurrence of such risks as teenage pregnancy and that there were numerous other avenues available that did not involve criminalization of consensual sexual conduct between adolescents in order to encourage them to lead healthy and responsible sexual lives.
The legal age of consent remains at 16 years of age, non-consensual sexual activity remains a crime but there is no longer criminal sanction for the consensual sexual activity of children between the ages of 12 and 16 and children who are between the ages of 16 and 17 years will only be liable for criminal prosecution if the age gap between them and the other child is more than 24 months.
The Act continues with its main aim, namely that of protecting children from being preyed upon by older sexual predators.
We support this Bill.
I thank you.
Contact: Hon CT Msimang, MP, on 082 452 2650
IFP Media, Parliament