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The 3 New Crime Laws Being Prepared for South Africa

South Africa has been experiencing increasingly high crime rates, especially regarding the violence that women and children face. Three new crime laws are being introduced that aim to protect women and children, and in this article, we will discuss what these crime laws will mean not only for the victims of violence but also for the perpetrators of violence.

South Africa’s crime statistics have reflected a grim picture of the state of violence that children and women experience. The coronavirus pandemic has only made these issues worse than they were before, and that is part of the reason why it has become crucial that laws are introduced that will ensure that they are all protected from violence. The conviction rate for GBV in South Africa between March and September 2020 was 3%, as 130 of the 4,058 people arrested for alleged GBV were convicted, which is appalling. The three crime laws being prepared are the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill, Criminals and Related Matters Amendment Bill of 2020, and the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill of 2020. These crime laws aim to protect the most vulnerable members of society, who are women and children. The crime laws take a stand against GBV, and perpetrators of violence against women and children will receive severe punishment.

Domestic Violence Amendment Bill

The Domestic Violence Amendment Bill intends to address and layout specific definitions that will benefit functionaries, government departments, and persons who deal with crimes. The bill will dictate for them the manner in which acts of domestic violence or matters that relate to domestic violence such as dating, engagements, customary, actual or perceived intimate, romantic or sexual relationships of any duration will be dealt with. The bill will further regulate how protection orders will be obtained in response to any domestic violence acts. The aim of the bill is also to remove and amend any provisions of certain laws and provide for matters connected to domestic violence.

The Domestic Violence Amendment Bill is significant as it also extends protection to older people and children. The bill is also crucial as it also offers new protections regarding reporting duties as people in the vulnerable category might find it challenging to report incidents of violence inflicted against them. Therefore, if anyone has knowledge or a reasonable belief that a sexual offence has been committed, they are obligated to report it on behalf of the victim.

Criminal Matters Amendment Bill

The Criminal Matters Amendment Bill aims to provide intermediaries’ appointments and use these intermediaries to hand out the evidence for proceedings that are not only criminal proceedings. The evidence given out can be done through audio-visual links that accommodate witnesses with psychological, physical or mental disabilities. The bill ensures the tightening of the granting of bail to the perpetrators of femicide and GBV and the expansion of offences where minimum sentences can be imposed. The bill aims to address the issue that the perpetrators of serious crimes, such as these are looking for ways to exploit legal loopholes for them to avoid imprisonment and that the sentencing for the crimes is often not in proportion with the crimes committed. The bill is also crucial as it ensures consistency, which is essential as most GBV incidents go unreported as the victims do not have faith in the justice system’s ability to put away the perpetrators of crime.

Criminal Law Amendment Bill

The Criminal Law Amendment Bill extends to offences of incest while introducing new offences of sexual intimidation. This bill extends to the reporting duty of people who might suspect a sexual offence has been committed against a minor. The bill’s introduction of intimidation as an offence is essential in South Africa as the mere threat of a sexual offence is regarded as an offence itself which could serve as a preventative measure as someone who is successfully prosecuted for sexual intimidation might be prevented from going to commit a grievous crime at a later stage.

The new bill also regulates the inclusion of persons in the National Register for Sex Offenders. It makes the provision for the sexual offences that have been made to be publicly available. It also regulates the removal of the particulars of people from the National Register for Sex Offenders.

Conclusion

The introduction of these new bills serves as an essential step in addressing the high levels of gender-based violence that the country has as they ensure that the perpetrators of the violence will face severe consequences. However, it is crucial to remember that the laws can only achieve so much.

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