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Sweet 16, never been kissed: A tale of the Sexual Offences Act

Before any of you start writing in to tell me that the Act wouldn’t affect an ugly old goat like me, I want to place on record that some of my old girlfriends have won competitions!

These include, but are not limited to, the Crufts Hurdling Champion 1984, Epol Allcomers (any breed) 1985 and the Dogmor Recovering from Rickets and Distemper Winner 1987 … the list is endless.

It got so bad that when I went out on a date, I always made sure I never had any tennis balls in my pockets — in case it fell out while we were walking and my date chased it into traffic and I landed up playing “please explain” with her mother.

Anyhow! The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill is now with us.

For most of you, I would suggest printing it, studying it and then keeping it in the cubby-hole of your car.

Not that I’m suggesting that any of you will ever fall foul of the Act — heaven forbid! It’s just that judges and magistrates will advise you that the great South African legal defence (among clients, not their representatives) of “I never knew”, unfortunately, is of little or no help in court.

So with that in mind, why not pop along to Google and read up on the commentaries covering everything from the new definition of rape to compulsory HIV testing.

Like any new Act, it will have to be tested in court, debated in public and amended, and undergo a period of uncertainty before anyone starts to feel remotely comfortable with it.

While it may have certain ridiculous provisions, the need for these measures is unquestionably long overdue. This country is known as one of the rape capitals of the world, if not the worst. If the legislature has overreacted, then that is unfortunate. Time will temper its wrath through our case law and amendments. Rather that than no reaction to what is a national disgrace.

Ironically, it comes at a time when our geniuses have just voted down a resolution on rape at the UN purportedly due to the fact that the definition was not wide enough.


Of course, the thing everyone is harping on about is that children under the age of 16 can’t kiss or rub up against each other. It gives new meaning to the term “rubbing someone up in the wrong way”.

It’s an overreaction, but I think it’s kind of special — the stolen kiss behind the bicycle shed will now be followed by a good rogering by Bubba at Medium C Diepkloof Prison. (That’s the section for youth.)

“Rubbers” will no longer be “condoms” but the Gauteng Under-16 rugby team, all of whom can’t keep their hands to themselves! “Kiss my arse” for under-16s may see the reintroduction of the death penalty.

Sweet 16 and never been kissed?

“That’s my client’s version, Your Worship.”


  • Michael Trapido

    Mike Trapido is a criminal attorney and publicist having also worked as an editor and journalist. He was born in Johannesburg and attended HA Jack and Highlands North High Schools. He married Robyn in 1984 (Mrs Traps, aka "the government") and has three sons (who all look suspiciously like her ex-boss). He was a counsellor on the JCCI for a year around 1992. His passions include Derby County, Blue Bulls, Orlando Pirates, Proteas and Springboks. He takes Valium in order to cope with Bafana Bafana's results. Practice Michael Trapido Attorney (civil and criminal) 011 022 7332 Facebook