Criminal Law

FAQ: National Register for Sex Offenders (NRSO)

NRSONRSO Forms l Factsheets

The cornerstone of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, No. 32 of 2007 (SORMAA), is the National Register for Sex Offenders (NRSO). As part of curbing the prevalence of sexual offences in South Africa, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has, in terms of Chapter 6 of the Act, implemented the National Register for Sex Offenders on 30th June 2009.

National Register for Sex Offenders (NRSO) aims to stop the spate of incidents against children and mentally disabled people

  • The NRSO was established by an Act of Parliament in 2007.
  • It is a record of names of those found guilty of sexual offences against children and mentally disabled people.
  • The register gives employers in the public or private sectors such as schools; crèches and hospitals the right to check that the person being hired is fit to work with children or mentally disabled people.
  • Being found guilty of a sexual offence against a child or mentally disabled person will result in one’s name being put on the National Register.
  • The Register seeks to ensure that offenders do not work with children or mentally disabled people.
  • Convicted offenders are also not allowed to apply for foster care or adoption, or to work with children.
  • Employers can find out whether the people they put in charge of their children have not been found guilty of sexual offences in terms of the law.

Q1. Is there a sex offender register, administered by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, in place as prescribed by the Sexual Offences Act?

Yes, there is a register used to record the details of all offenders who have been convicted of a sexual offence against children and mentally disabled persons. This is the database which is administered by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. This database is only accessible directly by the National Registrar for Sex Offenders and indirectly by the South African Police Service, the Department of Correctional Services, the Department of Health and the Department of Social Development.

Q2. What is the National Register for Sex Offenders?
The National Register for Sex Offenders is a database containing particulars of persons:

  • convicted of any sexual offence against a child or a person who is mentally disabled;
  • alleged to have convicted alleged to have committed a sexual offence against a child or a person who is mentally disabled in respect of whom a court, has made a finding and given a direction that the offender is mentally unfit to stand trial.

Q3. What is the purpose of the National Register for Sex Offenders?
It is to protect children and persons who are mentally disabled against sexual offenders by establishing and maintaining a record of persons who –

  • have been convicted of a sexual offence against a child or a person who is mentally disabled whether committed in  or outside the Republic or
  • alleged to have committed a sexual offence against a child or a person who is mentally disabled in respect of whom a court has made a finding and given a direction that the offender is mentally unfit to stand trial.

Q4. Who is responsible for the management of the National Register for Sex Offenders?

  • The Minister of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development establishes and maintains the Register. 
  • The National Registrar for Sex Offenders administers the National Register for Sex Offenders.
  • Police, Department of Correctional Services, the Department of Health and the courts nationwide submit the relevant information for the registration of offenders.

Q5. What type of information must be contained in the National Register for Sex Offenders?

  • Personal details: offender’s title, full names and surname, including any known alias or nickname where applicable, the profession or trade;
  • Contact details: the last known physical address, any contact details, including a postal address where applicable;
  • the identity number, passport number and driver’s licence number where applicable;
  • the type of sexual offence for which the offender has been convicted and whether or not it was committed against a child or a person who is mentally disabled, the sentence, as well as the relevant prisoner identification number where applicable;
  • the court in which the trial took place and the case number;
    the name of the medical institution or medical practitioner of a person and details of the sexual offence allegedly committed by a person who has been alleged to have committed a sexual offence against a child or a person who is mentally disabled in respect of whom a court, has made a finding and given a direction that the offender is mentally unfit to stand trial.
  • any other particulars as may be prescribed by regulation; and
  • if the conviction and sentence took place in a foreign jurisdiction, contain as far as possible the equivalent information as obtained from the relevant country or any other legal source.

Q6. Is the registration of an offender in the register a violation of the Bill of Rights?
No, the National Register for Sex Offenders complies with the Bill of Rights and the information contained in the register is treated with utmost confidentiality.

What Sexual Offences may be committed against children and persons who are mentally disabled?

  • Rape
  • Compelled rape
  • Sexual assault
  • Compelled sexual assault;
  • Compelled self-sexual assault
  • Acts of consensual sexual penetration with certain children (statutory rape)
  • Acts of consensual sexual violation with certain children (statutory sexual assault)
  • Compelling or causing children to witness sexual offences, sexual acts or self masturbation
  • Exposure or display or causing of exposure or display of genital organs, anus or female breasts to children
  • Sexual exploitation of children and persons who are mentally disabled;
  • Sexual grooming of children and persons who are mentally disabled;
  • Exposure or display of or causing exposure or display of child pornography or pornography to children or persons who are mentally disabled;
  • Using children or persons who are mentally disabled for pornographic purposes or benefiting there from.

Q7. Is the National Register for Sex Offenders accessible to the public?

  • The contents of the National Register will not be made available to the public. Only those entitled to apply for a clearance certificate will have access to the information contained in the National Register. It is a criminal offence for anyone to disclose or publish information contained in the National Register.

Q8. May members of the public enquire about the details of entries (e.g. type of offence, date committed, sentences, etc.) or the movements of the sex offenders?

  • Yes, only if those members of the public fall in the category of Employers, a Relevant Authority (department of state or administration in the national, provincial or local sphere of government; other functionary or institution exercising a power or performing a duty in terms of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996),
  • an employee in respect of her own particulars,
  • a person applying for a license or approval to manage or operate any entity,
  • a person applying to become a foster parent, applying for kingship care-giving, temporary safe care-giving, adoption or curatorship and
  • any person whose particulars appear on the Register in respect of his or her own particulars.  

Q9. What is a clearance certificate?

  • A clearance certificate is a certificate issued to an applicant confirming whether or not his particulars are contained in the Register.

Q10. How can a clearance certificate be obtained from the Registrar?

Q11. Is it possible to disclose or publish any information contained in the Register?

  • No one including the Registrar is allowed to disclose or publish any information contained in the Register including the names of convicted offenders.
  • Any unauthorised disclosure or publication amounts to a criminal offence.
  • The National Registrar or any other person assisting him or her in the exercise and performance of his or her powers may not disclose any information which he or she has acquired in the exercise of the powers, performance of the functions or carrying out of the duties and functions conferred upon, assigned to or imposed upon him or her.
  • It is a criminal offence to misuse data contained in the Register either by persons authorised to have access to it or by third parties who may acquire information from the Register.
  • Access to this personal information is tightly controlled and used for purposes of affording maximum protection to children and persons who are mentally disabled.

Q12. May members of the public, or school governing bodies, enquire whether an individual is in the Register?

  • Yes, employers who have employed officials working with children in their cause of employment may establish by way of application to the Registrar whether their employees are in the register as required in terms of the Act.

Q13. What are the obligations of employees?

  • An employee (working with children or people who are mentally disabled) in the employ of an employer at the commencement of this Chapter, who is or was convicted of a sexual offence against a child or a person who is mentally disabled, irrespective of whether or not such offence was committed or allegedly committed during the course of his or her employment, must without delay disclose such conviction or finding to his or her employer.

Q14. What are the implications of having one’s details added in the Register?

  • The implications of having one’s details included in the Register is that such a person may not be allowed work with children or people who are mentally disabled or have access to them

Q15. Once a person’s details are in the Register, can they be removed?

  • Yes, the details contained in the Register can be removed by way of application to the Registrar. However; this will only depend on the type of sentence received upon conviction. Some details may not be removed.

Questions and Concerns?
We welcome your questions and comments. For more information about the National Register for Sex Offenders, please contact the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

Enquiries
NRSO
The Registrar: Ms Ntombizodwa Matjila
Tel: 012 315 1656, Fax: 086 677 5264
E-mail: nrso@justice.gov.za

 

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