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  Legalwise Wiseup  
  September 2016  
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Frequently asked questions

What is sexual abuse?

  • Sexual abuse is where a person has sexual relations with another person without his/her consent, such as rape or sexual violation.
  • Rape is where a person has sexual intercourse with another person without his/her consent.
  • Sexual violation includes the touching of another person’s private parts without his/her consent.

What is the National Register for Sex Offenders and the National Child Protection Register?

  • The National Register for Sex Offenders (“NRSO”) is a register where a person’s details will be listed if s/he was convicted (found guilty) of an offence of a sexual nature (for example, rape or a sexual violation) against a child or a mentally disabled person.
  • The National Child Protection Register (“NCPR”) is a register where all persons who are unsuitable to work with children will be listed. A person will be unsuitable to work with children if, for example, s/he was convicted of murder, rape or assault (with the intent to do grievous bodily harm) of a child.
  • Being listed in the NRSO and NCPR might lead to a person struggling to obtain employment in the future, for example, a teacher who will not be able to work with children due to being listed in the NCPR.

What is criminal capacity?

  • Criminal capacity refers to whether a person can be held responsible for his/her actions that led to his/her conviction of an offence.
  • A person can only be held responsible for his/her actions if s/he has the mental capacity to distinguish between right and wrong, for example, a person must understand that what s/he has done is wrong, but did it in anyway.
  • Persons that will not have criminal capacity are mentally disabled persons and children under a certain age.

When will a child have criminal capacity?

  • A child under the age of 10 years does not have criminal capacity.
  • A child between the ages of 10 to 14 years does not have criminal capacity, unless it can be proved otherwise. For example, an expert (such as a qualified social worker) can evaluate a child to establish whether s/he has criminal capacity.
  • All children above the age of 14 years are considered to have full criminal capacity and can be convicted of an offence and sentenced, which may include a period of imprisonment.

What is a school’s Code of Conduct?
A school’s Code of Conduct (“Code”) sets out the rules of the school and what disciplinary proceedings must be followed when a child or teacher breaches the Code.

What happens if a child is bullied by a teacher, for example, being hit as a result of homework not done?

  • It is illegal for a teacher to hit a child at school.
  • The child, his/her parents or legal guardians can report the bullying by a teacher to the school’s governing body, or they can report it to the South African Police Service (“SAPS”) where criminal charges can be brought against the teacher.

What does it mean to be charged, convicted and sentenced?

  • To be charged with an offence refers to a formal allegation that is made against a person, which sets out the offences s/he committed, such as assault or rape. 
  • To be convicted refers to when a person has been found guilty by a court of the offence s/he has been charged with.
  • To be sentenced refers to the punishment a court may give a person who has been convicted of an offence, such as a fine and/or a period of imprisonment.
  Inside this Issue  
Letter from the Chief Executive Officer
Sexual abuse in schools
What did the judge say?
How to treat bullying in schools
Frequently asked questions
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