Report from the Ministerial task team: Re-establishing Sexual Offences Courts

From Minister Jeff Radebe’s media statement on 6 August 2013:

The concept of Sexual Offences Courts, which was the subject of the investigation, was first introduced in South Africa at the Wynberg Regional Court, Cape Town in 1993. This pilot project was aimed at responding to and preventing the increasing figures of rape cases reported in the area at the time. The pilot proved to be a huge success as it maintained the conviction rate of up to 80% over a period of a year. This became a strong motivation for the NPA to establish further Sexual Offences Courts around the country. Following the success of the Wynberg project, in 1999 the NPA first established sexual offence courts in Mdantsane, Soweto, Bloemfontein, Durban, Parow, and Grahamstown. By the end of 2005, there were 74 Sexual Offences Courts countrywide. Two of the main achievements of the Sexual Offences Courts were an increase in conviction rates and a decrease in turnaround time from the date of report to the police up to the finalisation of the case.

Even though these courts recorded considerable success, there were a number of challenges that led to their demise. Some of the challenges included the lack of a specific legal framework to establish these courts, a dedicated budget, poor visibility of these courts in remote areas, restricted space capacity in courts, lack of training of court personnel and monitoring and evaluation mechanism developed specifically for the management of these courts. However, nine (9) of these sexual offences courts continued to operate in various areas of the country which included Port Elizabeth, Durban, Johannesburg, Kimberly, Welkom, Bloemfontein, Wynberg, Parow, and Moretele. Also, a number of courts were dedicated to prioritise sexual offences related matter by the Regional Court Presidents. The department also put in more resources into these courts so as to reduce secondary victimisation.

The Task Team has concluded with their findings and compiled a detailed report which clearly determines that our current court system requires special courts to ensure an adequate response to the special needs of the sexual offence victims.

Download the Ministerial Advisory Task Team Report on the Re-establishment of Sexual Offences Courts

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