Frankel 8 on the verge of rewriting law on sexual assault

15 November 2017 - 08:12 By Nomahlubi Jordaan
The Constitutional Court in Johannesburg. File photo.
The Constitutional Court in Johannesburg. File photo.

The justice minister has conceded that a section of the Criminal Procedure Act that imposes a 20-year limit on prosecution for sexual assault is unconstitutional.

The justice department's lawyer, Geoff Budlender, told the Constitutional Court on Tuesday that they do not oppose a High Court order declaring section 18 of the act not in accordance with the constitution.

The Johannesburg High Court suspended the declaration of constitutional invalidity of the section for 18 months to allow parliament to remedy the constitutional defect.

Section 18 of the act imposes a limit of 20 years in which to prosecute sexual assault, but the limit does not apply to rape.

According to Budlender, however, Minister Michael Masutha "urges that the period of suspension be 24 months and not 18..."

Eight victims of child molestation, allegedly perpetrated by the late stockbroker Sidney Frankel, successfully had Section 18 declared unconstitutional by the High Court and have now approached the Constitutional Court asking it to confirm the lower court's order.

Known as the Frankel 8, the victims claim the billionaire sexually assaulted them more than 20 years ago when they were aged between seven and 15 years.

Frankel died in April at the age of 68.

Budlender said: "[Masutha] accepts that the provision is unconstitutional and supports confirmation of the High Court order."

Arguing for the victims earlier, Anton Katz said the High Court's invalidity order should have immediate effect.

According to Katz, section 18 as it stands does not allow perpetrators to have their day in court, and as such it has a traumatic effect on the victims.