Chairperson, I wish to inform the hon member that the establishment of the National Register for Sex Offenders as provided for in the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act of 2007 is one of the measures that the government has put in place to protect and curb the high incidence of sexual violence perpetrated against children and the mentally disabled.
The National Register for Sex Offenders is implemented by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and has been progressively achieving its intended goals since its implementation in June 2009. I have been informed by the registrar that enquiries are received from a range of institutions such as the licensing authorities, hospitals, schools and aftercare facilities.
It should be noted that, due to administrative and financial challenges encountered in the initial implementation of the register, the register ended up being implemented in two phases. The first phase of the National Register for Sex Offences is fully operational and it deals with the capturing of current convictions of all people who committed sexual offences against children and mentally disabled people.
As of 30 June 2009, the names of all persons convicted of a sexual offence against a child or a mentally disabled person, or who would have been convicted but not declared as state patients in terms of section 77 and 78 of the Criminal Procedure Act, are being captured in the register as received from the registrars of the High Court and clerks of the criminal courts. Currently 2 759 names of convicted sex offenders appear in the register. The reason why the capturing of historical convictions of persons who have been convicted of sexual offences against a child or a mentally challenged person are proving difficult, is that the SAPS Criminal Record Centre has historically captured the details of the offenders, and not the information of the victims. Therefore, although a person's details might be captured as having committed a sexual offence, the SA Police Service cannot inform the registrar whether the victim was a child or a mentally challenged person. A project is therefore under way to check the details received from the SAPS against the original court files and police dockets to confirm who the victims were.
One big challenge experienced at present is that clearance certificates cannot be provided as yet because of the historical information not being in place. The matter has been addressed as indicated above. Thank you.