IMPOTENT? THE PROSPECTS OF THE NATIONAL REGISTER FOR SEXUAL OFFENDERS
Keywords:National Register for Sexual Offenders, protect children, mentally-disabled persons, sexual offenders, administrative challenges, resource challenges
The National Register for Sexual Offenders was created in accordance with Chapter 6 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007. In terms of this Register, the names of all convicted and, in certain circumstances, alleged sex offenders who perpetrated a sexual offence against children or mentally-ill persons, before or after the coming into force of the Chapter, whether their convictions or alleged transgressions were committed in or outside the Republic, must be recorded in the Register. The purpose of the Register is to protect children and mentally-disabled persons against sexual offenders by establishing and maintaining a record of convicted and alleged sex offenders and informing employers, licensing authorities, and authorities dealing with fostering, kinship- and temporary safe care-giving, adoption or curatorship whether a person’s particulars appear on the register. Although the Register was implemented in 2009, it is still not functional and fraught with problems. These problems were already anticipated by the South African Law Reform Commission in 1997 who recommended against the establishment of such a register, yet the submission was ignored. It is not apparent that the Register is accomplishing its intended purpose. Not only is its proper functioning undermined by overbroad and vague provisions resulting in legal action being instituted, but resource and administrative challenges are also impeding its purpose. This note contextualises the Register and considers its current status as well as its future potential. It is argued that, despite atrocious sexual offences statistics in South Africa, the Register is not a panacea to remedy the situation, and more viable alternatives should be utilised.
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