Court lifts time limit on sex crimes
Allegations of sexual assault can be pursued at any time and are no longer restricted to a 20-year time limit‚ the High Court in Johannesburg ruled on Monday.
Eight alleged victims of the late stockbroker Sidney Frankel‚ who accused him of assaulting them when they were children‚ have won their case to change the legislation.
The group of eight have an continuing civil case against the Frankel estate.
Section 18 of the Criminal Procedure Act imposes a prescription period of 20 years in which to prosecute a sexual offence other than rape.
Acting Judge Claire Hartford on Monday found this restriction to be "unconstitutional".
The Constitutional Court now had to confirm the high court ruling before it could come into effect‚ said attorney Ian Levitt.
The Constitutional Court confirmation is expected soon.
The judge has given Parliament 18 months to remedy the law that has a statute of limitations on sexual offences.
Should Parliament not remedy the law within 18 months‚ the law would change as the judge ruled.
Miranda Jordan-Friedmann‚ director of Women and Men against Abuse‚ called the judgment "profound and huge and a momentous occasion".
She said generations would thank the "Frankel 8" for what they had achieved.
"Everyone in this justice system won today."
She thanked the eight for their "bravery and letting [out] their most intimate secrets to
Jordan-Friedmann said that they had won the case for every abused child. This would allow other victims to come forward and to be believed years after the abuse‚ she said.
"My clients have not only been traumatised by what happened to them‚ but there is a secondary trauma because the law has not been changed‚" said Anton Katz SC when the case was argued.
Katz said one accuser claimed that during the 1970s, Frankel had sexually assaulted her‚ including penetration using his fingers.
"He would sit her on his lap in such a way her body would be in contact with his penis. He would insist this was good.
He would penetrate her so hard and offered her a Rolo chocolate for comfort."
Frankel died at his home in Johannesburg in March. He was 68.