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Activists want Sex Offenders Register to be made public

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Gender activists from the Cape Flats have questioned why the National Sex Offenders Register (NSRO) is not being made available to communities, to protect vulnerable women and children from sexual predators. The recent case of a  13-year-old girl from Athlone, who was drugged and brutally raped by a man recently released from jail for raping another 12 year old girl, has raised the alarm on the monitoring of convicted sexual offenders.

An article in the Cape Times states that there are 29 306 convicted sex offenders on the National Sex Offenders Register. The register is not available to the general public but instead to those who employ people who work with children or disabled people, in places like schools, crèches and hospitals. The register is furnished with information from the courts, department of correctional services and the department of health.

However, activists question whether such a register can really be effective in curbing sexual crime, if sexual predators are still allowed to roam freely in communities. The Mitchell’s Plain Impact Association’s Joanie Fredericks says she questions whether such a register truly exists.

“I have asked to be given access to this list so that we can be made aware of our surroundings but I have received no feedback which makes me question whether this list even exists,” Fredericks stated.

Fredericks says she is truly disturbed that matters such as land without expropriation gets precedence over issues communities within the Western Cape and Cape Town as a whole face.

“During the #TotalShutdown march earlier this week, our President said that women have the power in their hands and we are capable of addressing certain issues, but in the same breath he says he would assist with the land expropriation without compensation debacle. How is it even possible that the two are linked,” she stressed.

Chairperson of the Manenberg Community Policing Forum, Roegshanda Pascoe said she is highly insulted as an activist that these predators are still roaming the streets preying on children.

“As an activist on the ground, I am insulted. We are trying to alleviate crime, yet we allow the criminals direct access to our children. Our children and women need to be protected,” Pascoe states.

Fredericks says she witnessed in many instances at courts that the majority of the suspects arrested for charges related to rape crimes, does in fact have a criminal record and were prosecuted before for having committed sexual related offences.

“In the past year alone, most of the perpetrators were linked to sexual crimes. I don’t understand how these men are still allowed anywhere near women and children,” Fredericks adds.

Fredericks says in recent weeks she dealt with a child who had run away from home and later revealed that it was because she was being sexually abused by her stepfather. She says the child felt like no one would believe her.

“When I spoke to the girl, she told me she knew no one would believe her and she was afraid that her step father would put them out,” Fredericks says.

She says can no longer turn a blind eye to as it directly affects her.

“This has become personal now. Government and political parties are playing with our lives, they are making our children feel like what is happening to them is acceptable,” Fredericks stresses.

Pascoe says she is concerned that should the sexual offences cases are not dealt with correctly, mob justice would take place.

“We have been calling on government to assist and no one is willing to, they make us seem like we are out to cause trouble and that is why communities members take the law into their own hands,” Pascoe says.

Pascoe stresses that both provincial and national government should intervene and assist communities before more children fall victim to sexual abuse and death. VOC

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