Thousands of sex offenders dodge listing
THOUSANDS of child abusers and sex offenders are not making it onto government’s offenders’ registers because of cracks in the judicial system, the portfolio committee on Social Development heard yesterday.
“We want perpetrators not to fall (through) the cracks … so we’ve gone back to basics,” Justice and Constitutional Development Director-general Nonkululeko Sindane said after a joint presentation from her department and that of Social Development.
“We are meeting with the judiciary more frequently now. The conviction is the easy part. The unsuitability is proving to be the difficult part.”
She said that at present only 2 648 names were on the national sex offenders list for committing crimes involving children and people with mental disabilities.
However, on a separate list on the department of social services’ National Child Protection Register only 438 names of abusers appeared.
This despite 19 830 children having reportedly been abused. The register came into effect on April 1, 2010.
Social Development’s Director-general Vusi Madonsela said the 438 names were made up of both convicted child abusers as well as others deemed a possible threat to children.
In a bid to explain why there were so few names in comparison to the number of children registered, Madonsela cited problems within the judiciary.
He said in all cases involving rape, murder, attempted murder, indecent assault, assault or intent to cause harm to children, the offenders should automatically be registered on the list.
However, when considering other offences not directly pertaining to children, then a separate inquiry and assessment needed to be conducted to determine suitability for the register.
This however, could not merely be ruled on by a judge or magistrate of his own accord as the prosecutors needed to institute the proceedings. He said they seldom take necessary steps.
Another stumbling block was when courts in some instances failed to submit a finding of unsuitability.