A number of primary and high school principals have opposed a court application to declare laws against child sex unconstitutional.
They feel that if it were legal for children to have sex it would make their jobs a nightmare and encourage sexual relations.
The Teddy Bear Clinic and Resources Aimed at the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (Rapcan), represented by the Centre for Child Law, filed court papers last year challenging the constitutionality of laws that criminalise children between 12 and 16 who are consensually involved in sexual activity with each other.
This was after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) decided to charge three Gauteng high school pupils with statutory rape after they, a girl and two boys were filmed while having sex.
The charges have since been provisionally withdrawn.
SA Principals’ Association provincial president David de Korte said in an affidavit to the Johannesburg High Court that he believed he spoke for primary and high school principals across the country.
A number of Western Cape principals and deputy principals signed the affidavit in agreement.
They included Sunlands Primary School, Pinelands North Primary School, Greenfield Girls’ Junior School, Sans Souci Girls’ High School, Wynberg Boys’ Junior and High schools, Kirstenhof Primary School, Muizenberg High School, Wynberg Girls’ Junior School, Table View High School, Edgemead High School, Bishops and others.
De Korte wrote: “Our expertise and experience of many years as educators leads us to say emphatically that it would make our already difficult task of dissuading children from early sex much more difficult if the law were to be ameliorated.”
He said this would send out a message that sex was acceptable for children and that there were no consequences.
De Korte said there was no advantage to changing the law as it would only make it more difficult to protect children.
His affidavit formed part of the replying affidavit by John Smyth, executive director of the Justice Alliance of South Africa, which had intervened as amicus curiae, or friend of the court, to assist the State in opposing the two organisations’ application.
Smyth told the Cape Times the matter was expected to be heard during the middle of next year.
Other reports linked to Smyth’s affidavit included those of an obstetrician and gynaecologist, pediatrician and sexologist who all agreed the application should be opposed.
The affidavit said the alliance did not wish for children to be prosecuted but for the legislation to act as a deterrent.
The two parties had asked the court to declare two sections of the Sexual Offences Act unconstitutional.
In their affidavit to the court, the two organisations ask that only persons over the age of 16 be charged for consensual sexual acts of children between 12 and 16.
They said that criminalising children for consensual sex stopped their access to reproductive and other health care and counselling services and had the potential to subject them unnecessarily to the criminal justice system.