PRETORIA– South Africa’s Cabinet has approved a proposal to amend the Criminal Procedure Act to allow the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to institute charges in sexual offence cases, even if the crime has take place more than 20 years earlier.

The proposed amendment Bill will extend the list of sexual offences in respect of the prosecution and significantly, it allows for the charges to be instituted even after 20 years, Minister of Communications NomvulaMokonyane said Thursday.

Briefing the media on the outcomes of the Cabinet meeting held in Cape Town on Wednesday, she said the Cabinet approved the introduction of the Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill of 2018, which seeks to amend the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 in Parliament.

She added that the proposed amendments would give effect to the South Gauteng High court judgment in the Levenstein case. The judgment declared Section 18 of the Criminal Procedure Act 51, 1977, inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid to the extent that it bars, in all circumstances, the right to institute a prosecution for all sexual offences, other than those listed in section 18 (f), (h) and (i) of this Act after the lapse of 20 years from the time when the offence was committed,” the Minister said.

The amendments will allow the National Prosecuting Authority wider discretion to institute prosecutions in sexual offences in accordance with Chapter two of the Constitution.”

She said the Cabinet also approved the Medical Schemes Amendment Bill of 2018 to be published in the Government Gazette for public comment. The Bill seeks to amend the Medical Schemes Act 131, 1998, to align it with the National Health Insurance White Paper and the Draft National Health Insurance Fund Bill.

The Bill, among others, seeks to improve the regulation of the medical schemes industry and to also align the regulatory framework to the changes that have taken place over the past decade in the sector. This bill will also ensure that beneficiaries are better protected and promotes better access to private health funding, the Minister said.