Teddy Bear Foundation and CALS Enter Sidney Frankel Sexual Assault Case
- Lee-Anne Bruce
Court to hear argument on prescription periods for prosecuting sexual assault
The Teddy Bear Foundation, represented by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) at Wits University, has been admitted to intervene in the case as amicus curiae or ‘friend of the court’ in matter brought against accused sexual offender Sidney Frankel.
The matter will be heard at the South Gauteng High Court on 22 and 23 May 2017.
The application aims to challenge a section of law which gives the state a maximum of 20 years to prosecute a sexual assault while there is no such time limit for the crime of rape. This application was brought by eight individuals accusing Frankel of sexually abusing them as children.
“We wish to assist the Court with this important issue and support the applicants’ position that it is in the public interest for victims of all forms of sexual violence to be able to access justice at any time,” says Sheena Swemmer, Attorney at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies.
Drawing on the Teddy Bear Foundation’s extensive expertise, CALS argues that:
- The sexual assault of children is an especially terrible crime which can cause severe trauma and long-term psychological impacts such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Often these impacts can have a comparable effect to those experienced by victims of rape. South African criminal law does not currently recognise this reality.
- Children who are sexually assaulted are most often unable to come to terms with the experience until later in life, and they do so in many different forms. Typically, they disclose information about the experience over a long period as adults. Having a limited time in which they can report the crime effectively prevents these child victims from accessing justice.
- The state has a duty to protect children, especially when they are in care facilities or places of safety and are particularly vulnerable to harm. In many instances, even if they are able to process what has happened to them, children are afraid to come forward or are coerced into remaining silent about it. The legal system needs to respond to victims of abuse and ensure that they are not retraumatised and are instead protected at whatever stage they come forward.
The need to protect vulnerable people remains an important issue for the Teddy Bear Foundation and the Centre for Applied Legal Studies.
“The protections offered to survivors of rape need to be extended to the survivors of sexual assault,” says Shaheda Omar, Clinical Director at the Teddy Bear Foundation. “All sexual offences must be sanctioned by the law. It is critical that all victims of sexual abuse be treated fairly and equally and be given the opportunity to be heard whenever they are ready.
Read our court papers:
- Amicus curiae application (17 November 2017)
- Court order granting admission to intervene as amicus curiae (1 February 2017)
- Heads of argument (10 March 2017)
For inquiries, please contact:
- Shaheda Omar
- Clinical Director: Teddy Bear Foundation
- 011 484 4554
- 083 557 3720
- Sheena Swemmer
- Attorney: Centre for Applied Legal Studies
- 011 717 8609
- 082 491 6646
ABOUT THE TEDDY BEAR FOUNDATION
The TBF (previously Teddy Bear Clinic) is an NGO that was established in 1986 to provide holistic child protection services. Through our facility in Parktown Johannesburg and satellite centres across the province we provide a range of services to abused children and their families. The TBF provides a range of Victim Support Services including counselling and court preparation programmes; Outreach initiatives; Diversion programmes and Multi-Disciplinary Training. For more on our activities visit www.tbbc.org.za
ABOUT CENTRE FOR APPLIED LEGAL STUDIES
The Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) is a public interest law organisation based at the School of Law at the University of the Witwatersrand. Founded in 1978 by Professor John Dugard, CALS continues to use a combination of research, advocacy and litigation to advance human rights and social justice. Read more about our work at https://www.wits.ac.za/cals/