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On 3 October 2013, the South African Constitutional Court (similar to the American Supreme Court), proclaimed sections 15 and 16 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, relating to sexual offences, to be unconstitutional. The unanimous judgement was written by Judge Sisi Khampepe. According to the judgement, these two sections “infringed on the rights of adolescents between 12 and 16 to dignity and privacy, and further violated the best interest principle contained in section 28(2) of the constitution.” (IOL)
According to the Constitutional Court’s (ConCourt) judgement summary, the court used expert evidence to conclude that “the impugned provisions criminalise what constitutes developmentally normative conduct for adolescents, and adversely affect the very children the Act seeks to protect.”
Further, “[t]he provisions were declared invalid only to the extent that they criminalise consensual sexual conduct between adolescents [defined as 12- to 16-year olds]: the criminal prohibitions against non-consensual sexual conduct with children of any age, and against sexual activity between adults and older children on the one hand, and adolescents on the other hand, remain in place.”
In this judgement, the ConCourt is reticent to criminalize “what constitutes developmentally normative conduct for adolescents.” Really? So, the measuring rod for behaviour amongst our children is what constitutes as “developmentally normative conduct for adolescents?” What other conduct related to developmental conduct will next be decriminalized? Your guess is as good as mine, and it sends shivers down my spine when I just think of the possibilities.
Violence among teenagers is a growing problem in South Africa. More and more teenagers think that the best way to solve differences is through physical violence. Just this week a group of teenagers from one school used a taxi to get to another school to exact vengeance on pupils of that school for bullying a friend of theirs at the school. A couple of weeks ago a pupil attacked and seriously wounded a teacher. This type of violence among teenagers has become normative developmental conduct in our nation. Will this be decriminalized?