New law raises criminal capacity of children to 12 years


66 days ago

The Child Justice Amendment Bill was signed into law on June 4 during Child Protection Week.

The new age of criminal capacity means that children who are younger than 12 lack criminal capacity and cannot be arrested or prosecuted for committing an offence.

The new law outlines some of the factors that the state must consider when investigating an offence committed by a child.

The Centre for Child Law's Zita Hansungule says that probation officers will have to assess the individual circumstances of each child.

Hansungule explains that probation officers will be tasked with identifying what social services a child may be in need of as part of their rehabilitation, including counselling.

The age was raised from 10 to 12 as a result of research that was carried out over a 5-year period to determine how many children... had been committing crimes and what assistance was being provided to them

Zita Hansungule, Project Coordinator for Research and Advocacy - Centre For Child Law

When you have children 12 and above coming into contact with the criminal justice system, then you have probation officers individually assessing them to determine their level of capacity and how they can engage with the system.

Zita Hansungule, Project Coordinator for Research and Advocacy - Centre For Child Law

A probation officer has to carry out an assessment investigating the circumstances of the child and then determine if the child needs to be referred to a children's court or if the child needs therapy or counselling.

Zita Hansungule, Project Coordinator for Research and Advocacy - Centre For Child Law

A child is referred to the children's court if the probation officer suspects that the child is in need of care and protection.

Zita Hansungule, Project Coordinator for Research and Advocacy - Centre For Child Law

Listen to the discussion on Afternoon Drive with John Maytham:

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : New law raises criminal capacity of children to 12 years

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