11/12/2017 07:35 SAST | Updated 11/12/2017 07:35 SAST

Former Constitutional Court Judge: Decriminalise Sex Work

"I am not saying sex work is a good thing; nor am I saying that it is a bad thing. The morality of it does not interest me."

City Press

Former Constitutional Court justice Zak Yacoob says sex work needs to be decriminalised, The Times reported on Monday.

In an interview with The Times, Yacoob said this was the one area which needed to be rectified by the Constitutional Court, because the HIV crisis cannot be solved without decriminalising sex work.

"I am not saying sex work is a good thing; nor am I saying that it is a bad thing. The morality of it does not interest me. I think making sex work criminal is wrong. It is against the [sex workers'] right to make their own decisions. [Sex workers] are the most vulnerable people as far as HIV is concerned. We cannot solve the HIV crisis without decriminalising sex work. So I think that is an issue which I would love the court to reconsider in the constitutional era of today," he reportedly said.

Yacoob said there was a disconnect between what the Constitution and the law said and what people actually think.

"To give an example, the court had said gay and lesbian people can get married, but 99% of the people in our country believe that gays and lesbians live in sin," he said.

Yacoob told The Times that the Constitutional Court has said that all people are equal, but the majority of South Africans believed that men are superior.

"We are supposed to live in a nonracial society but there are many, even African people, who think that white people have better brains," he said.

The 69-year-old judge retired in 2013. Since then, he has been increasingly vocal of national issues.

In February, Yacoob told a conference commemorating FW de Klerk's speech announcing the unbanning of the ANC and other political organisations, that it was time for the country to stop relying on the courts to address inequality and poverty.

"The government is failing to close that gap to bring greater prosperity to an ever growing percentage of the population," he said, according to Eyewitness News (EWN).

In March, he criticised government for wanting to leave the International Criminal Court, saying this would have "catastrophic international consequences", according to News24.