DAWN welcomes strike down of 20 year Expiry on Prosecuting Sexual Offences

The DA Women’s Network welcomes that the South Gauteng High Court has declared section 18 of the Criminal Procedure Act unconstitutional. This section stated that all sexual offences, other than rape prescribe after 20 years.
This provision has meant that crimes such as sexual assault could not be prosecuted after 20 years and thus had the effect of denying victims their constitutionally protected right to justice.
The DA Women’s Network welcomes this decision by the court as it has the potential to afford all survivors of sexual violence the opportunity to approach courts for legal recourse and get the justice that is due to them even if the crime is reported numerous years later.
All sexual offences are serious in nature as the victims of these crimes often have to experience the adverse and far-reaching effects long after the crime has been committed.
Declaring section 18 of the Criminal Procedure Act unconstitutional is a major achievement in the fight against sexual abuse. We anticipate that the Constitutional Court will agree, and we look forward to the law being amended as soon as possible.

Gupta attorney must be denied indemnity from prosecution if he is found to be lying

The claim by the Guptas’ lawyer, Gert van der Merwe, that he has done nothing wrong in a R16-million corruption case he was accused of being part of is misleading, to say the least.
Van der Merwe revealed in an affidavit that he appears to have participated or assisted in laundering money between Limpopo’s former MEC of Health, Miriam Segabutla, and businessman, Johnny Lucas. He was arrested in 2013 before turning state witness against his co-accused.
He now wants indemnity against prosecution in terms of section 204 of the Criminal Procedure Act, which is designed to offer indemnity from prosecution if one incriminates oneself, answer all questions openly and honestly, to the satisfaction of the Presiding Officer, who makes the final decision on indemnity at the end of the trial.
Van der Merwe’s claim that he did not “knowingly, intentionally or actively participate in any criminal activities” contradicts what he submitted in the Section 204 affidavit. If this is indeed the case, and it does not appear to be so from the contents of his affidavit, then he does not need the protection offered by section 204, since if he has done nothing wrong he could not be prosecuted for anything, would not need indemnity and would be an ordinary witness.
It comes as no surprise that Van der Merwe was chosen by the Guptas to represent the family.
The DA have already written to the Law Society of the Northern Provinces and welcome their decision to investigate the conduct of Van der Merwe. Should it be found that he does not conform to the high ethical standards expected of a member of the profession, as we contend that he does not, an application to have him struck off the roll should be brought immediately.