Policy and practice of sentencing male child sexual offenders at Wynberg sexual offences court

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This study explores the attitudes of the magistrates, prosecutors, and the probation officers at the Sexual Offences Court at Wynberg Magistrates Court regarding the sentencing of male child sexual offenders, as well as the types of sentences passed on sex offenders. A combination of documentary evidence, that is, court files, and qualitative and quantitative research methods was used. The quantitative aspect of the research lies in the aggregation of data collected from the court files. The qualitative dimension of the study is reflected in the interview schedules administered to the judicial officials and probation officers. The research findings indicate that magistrates and prosecutors are well informed about significant legislation that influences the sentencing of sex offenders. It emerged from the findings that the value systems and personal biases of magistrates surface when passing sentences on sex offenders. Lack of training opportunities for all judicial officials and probation officers in addition to a poor prison system with inadequate rehabilitation structures, were regarded as key challenges faced during the sentencing process. In the light of the research findings, recommendations were made to address the inconsistent sentencing practices of magistrates in regard to sexual offenders.

Bibliography: leaves 109-114.