GroundUP reports: The Constitutional Court has ratified a High Court order declaring sections of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act as unconstitutional because it criminalises the use and possession of cannabis by a child. The court has suspended the order for 24 months to give Parliament time to finalise a legislative reform process. During this period, the court has unanimously ruled, no child may be arrested or prosecuted, or even “diverted” for contravening the relevant provisions of the Act. Instead, the court said, any child apprehended may be referred to civil processes, such as those found in the Children’s Act.
Where a court has already convicted a child, the criminal record can, on application, be expunged. The matter came before the court following an order by Johannesburg High Court judges Ingrid Opperman and Ratha Mokgoathleng in 2020, who found that criminal penalties should not be imposed on children when, following the Constitutional Court judgment Prince v Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, the same was not true for adults.