Sexual Offences Courts in South Africa: Quo vadis?
Since the establishment of the first Sexual Offences Court in Wynberg in 1993, various developments have taken place that include, but are not limited to, the following: several investigations into these courts were undertaken; the Sexual Offences and Community Affairs Unit (SOCA Unit) was established; a blueprint for Sexual Offences Courts was drafted and later refined; and, by 2007, the number of Sexual Offences Courts had increased to 59. These courts have performed exceptionally well compared with general regional courts and conviction rates rose to 70 per cent on average. Despite the obvious success of these courts, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development declared a moratorium on the establishment of additional Sexual Offences Courts pending the outcome of an evaluation of existing Sexual Offences Courts. In this article, a synopsis of the development of Sexual Offences Courts is given and the subsequent evaluation commissioned by the Minister is assessed and is supplemented with recommendations to enhance efforts to combat sexual offences through the Sexual Offences Courts.