FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CAPE TOWN: 12 December 2021
The Women’s Legal Centre will be appearing in the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court on Monday, 13 December 2021, representing a client to oppose an interim protection order in terms of the Protection from Harassment Act and challenge the constitutionality of certain provisions of the law contained in the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA).
Ms Caroline Peters, a lifelong gender and community activist, represented by the Women’s Legal Centre (WLC), will challenge the constitutionality of certain provisions of the law contained in the Criminal Procedure Act which prohibit the publication of the identity of an accused charged with a sexual offence before he has pleaded to the charges. The WLC will also challenge further provisions in the CPA which prohibit the publication of the identity of an accused charged with a sexual offence from the time the offence was committed before he even appears in court on these charges. ‘Publication’ in this context may include media reports, social media posts, and even speaking to others about the case.
Ms Peters currently has an interim protection order, granted by the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court in terms of the Protection from Harassment Act, against her in favour of an accused person charged with rape on the basis that she publically identified him by name and posted his details on her social media profiles. The accused in the rape matter has also laid criminal charges against Ms Peters for contravening these provisions of the CPA.
Ms Peters and her community-based organisations are providing support to the complainant in the rape case, which has included attending court when the accused has appeared. The accused has not yet pleaded to the charges of rape against him.
The prohibition on the publication of the identity of the accused charged with a sexual offence before he has pleaded only applies to cases of sexual offences, and not to any other offence, like murder, assault, fraud or drug trafficking. The prohibition even extends to the complainant who may not publically name the person she has accused of a sexual offence until he has pleaded. The publication of these details constitutes a criminal offence and on conviction carries the potential of a fine or imprisonment for a period of time not exceeding three years or both.
Speaking before the court date, WLC Advocate Bronwyn Pithey says: “The constitutional challenge will broadly focus on the discriminatory aspects of the law which seek to further silence rape and sexual assault survivors and their supporters through the criminalisation of womxn who speak out and name those men accused of rape. The challenge will also address the misuse of legislation such as the Protection from Harassment Act which is essentially intended to protect womxn and is appropriated by men and inappropriately used against womxn to silence them.”
Ms Peters is appearing in Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court on Monday, 13 December 2021 to oppose the interim protection order.
The Women’s Legal Centre is an African feminist legal centre that advances womxn’s rights and equality using tools such as litigation, advocacy, education, advice, research and training.
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