PURPOSE OF BILL
1.1 Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (Act No. 51 of 1977) (the ‘‘Act’’), prohibits the publication of certain information relating to criminal proceedings. Section 154(3) provides that no person shall publish in any manner whatsoever any information which reveals or may reveal the identity of an accused under the age of 18 years or of a witness at criminal proceedings who is under the age of 18 years: Provided that the presiding judge or judicial officer may authorise the publication of so much of such information as he or she may deem fit if the publication thereof would in his or her opinion be just and equitable and in the interest of any particular person.
1.2 In Centre for Child Law and Others v Media 24 Limited and Others 2019 ZACC 46 (the ‘‘Centre for Child Law judgment’’), the Constitutional Court held that section 154(3) of the Act does not afford protection to child victims of criminal offences and that the protection does not continue to apply even after a child accused, witness or victim turns 18 years of age, whereas it ought to, and section 154(3) is, for those reasons, inconsistent with the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (the ‘‘Constitution’’). The declaration of constitutional invalidity was suspended for 24 months to afford Parliament an opportunity to correct the defect giving rise to the constitutional invalidity.
The Constitutional Court granted interim relief by way of a reading-in to ensure that, during the period of suspension of invalidity, the protection—
(a) afforded by section 154(3) is also extended to child victims of criminal
(b) continues to apply after a child accused, witness or victim turns 18 years
1.3 The Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill, 2021 (the ‘‘Bill’’), seeks to amend section 154 to address the constitutional invalidity of the provision.
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