South African law currently rules that children of 10 years and under cannot be held liable for committing crimes, but this age may soon be pushed up to 12 as the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development reviews the Child Justice Amendment Bill.
The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services was briefed on the proposed changes to the bill on Tuesday, and the Committee Chairperson, Madipoane Mothapo, had the following to say: “The primary objective of the Child Justice Amendment Bill is to increase the minimum age of criminal capacity of children from 10 to 12 years and to remove the requirement to prove criminal capacity for purposes of diversion and preliminary inquiries.”
As posted by IOL, Section 7 of the Child Justice Act states that a child under the age of 10 does not have “criminal capacity” and therefore cannot be prosecuted for committing a criminal offense.
A report was compiled in support of the proposed amendments to the Bill, with stakeholders such as the Department of Health, the National Prosecuting Authority, the judiciary, Legal Aid SA, and various other civil society organisations specialising in the needs of children included.
Comments on the Bill can be submitted until 2 November, and public hearings will be conducted at Parliament.