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MBABANE – Five years later, the office of registrar for the national register for sexual offenders has not been set up.

The set-up of the office would comply with the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence (SODV) Act of 2018 and fulfil the protection of vulnerable groups including children and persons with disabilities from sexual prowlers. The SODV Act was accented into law by His Majesty King Mswati III in May 2019. Some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and others advocating for the law were overjoyed. This was because it meant the passing of the law marked the importance of strengthening the legal system when it came to sexual and gender-based violence (GBV) offences, as it overhauled sentences and fines as a deterrent, to curbing such crimes. Eswatini has been inundated with reported GBV cases, to the extent that some sectors of the society called the scourge to be declared a national disaster.

sexual offences

More than the SODV Act criminalising GBV and sexual offences, it also broadens the meaning of rape as well as calls for the implementation of the national register of sex offenders. The latter part is found in sections 56 to 69. In these provisions, members of the public, employers and organisations, that look after the welfare of children are given the right to approach the register of sexual offenders for fact-finding and caution in dealing with the offenders. This, however, is non-existent, despite that at times a charge sheet of an SODV Act-related offence states that for the severity of the offence, the name of the offender would be included in the sex offenders’ register. Section 57 of the SODV Act states the register’s function is to keep the details of sex offenders. This is meant to ensure the protection of survivors of sexual offences, particularly children and persons who have physical and mental disabilities. It is also in these provisions that the function of the national register for sexual offenders, as well as the duties that the registrar are detailed. The statute delegates this responsibility to the Deputy Prime Minister’s (DPM) Office, especially the DPM.


The DPM’s role is to manage the register, and the SODV calls for the designation of the post of the registrar. The current DPM is Thulisile Dladla. She took over from Themba Masuku. Section 56 of the SODV Act talks about the establishment of the office, as well as the duties of the registrar. When questions were posed to the DPM regarding the status of this obligation, she referred questions to the Principal Secretary (PS) Melusi Masuku. Masuku said there were internal movements in this process. He said last year the regulations of the SODV Act were adopted, which then gave way to commissioning a team of experts who took a trip to neighbouring South Africa for benchmarking purposes. He said the team comprised of officials from the DPM’s Office, police and the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). “Upon return, the team presented their lessons to the office and relevant stakeholders, as well as developing a roadmap to guide the establishment of this office,” Masuku said, adding that the team learnt about the operationalisation, establishment and management of the office’s systems.


The SODV Act establishes the designation of a registrar of register, talks about the objectives of the register, its contents, being included in the register, prohibition on certain types of employment of persons, who have committed sexual offences against children and persons who are disabled and the obligations of employers in respect of employees, among other things.
Section 56 of the SODV Act states that the minister (DPM) or any other authority would “designate a fit and proper person, with due regard to the experience, conscientiousness and integrity of that person, as the Registrar for the National Register for Sex Offenders.” It states that the registrar for the national register for sex offenders has to be someone with experience, conscientiousness and integrity, the SODV Act states.


Section 56(3) states: “The registrar shall exercise and perform such powers, duties and functions subject to the provisions of this Act and the regulations.” The hiring of the said person would ensure that the rights of survivors of sexual offences are to be realised. The law also expands on what shall be contained by the register. This includes the particulars of persons convicted of any sexual offence in terms of Section 165 or Section 319 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act. Section 59 (1) (iii) and (iv) also reads, a person who is currently serving a sentence of imprisonment shall be included in the register while section 59(1) (iv) includes someone who has served a sentence of imprisonment as the result of a conviction for a sexual offence. The Act states that the long arm of the law would extend to those who are outside the country. The register is expected to keep the records of persons who have been convicted of a sexual offence, whether committed before or after the commencement of this Act and whether committed in or outside the country. The SODV Act also states that if someone has been convicted in any foreign jurisdiction of a sexual offence whose particulars appear on an official register in any foreign jurisdiction, under the conviction for a sexual offence or as a result of an order, whether committed before or after the commencement of this Act, shall also be enlisted in the register.


Furthermore, the SODV Act further states that the register shall also apply to whether a person has been committed before or after the commencement of this Act and its regulations. It will also establish and maintain the records of when the allegations were committed, tried in which court – even the case number – as well as the findings made.

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