Case BriefsForeign Courts

Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa: This appeal was filed before a 5-Judge Bench comprising of Tshiqi, Swain and Dambuza, JJA., Mokgohloa and Mothle, AJJA.,  against a sentence of 5-year imprisonment for commission of offence of rape.

Respondent was indicted on three counts i.e. of housebreaking with intend to rob, rape read with Section 51(1), and robbery. He was convicted of theft and rape in terms of Section 51 (2) of the Minimum Sentences Act. Respondent submitted his personal circumstances that he was 19 years old studying in school Grade 10 and first offender of rape. It was submitted that he was under influence of liquor at the time of commission of crime. Trial Court on the basis of the above circumstances found personal circumstances of the respondent amounting to substantial and compelling circumstances and sentenced him 5 years imprisonment. Petitioner contended that respondent’s conviction of rape rendered him liable for punishment under Section 51(2) of the Minimum Sentences Act which prescribes a minimum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment.

Therefore, appeal against sentence was upheld, sentence was set aside and replaced with a minimum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment. [Director of Public Prosecutions Limpopo v. Koketso Motloutsi, Case No. 527 of 2018, dated 04-12-2018]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Constitutional Court of South Africa: A 10-Judge Bench comprising of CJ Mogoeng and Cachalia, Dlodlo, Goliath, Petse, AJ., Froneman, Jafta, Khampepe, Madlanga, and Theron, JJ., dealt with three appeals together having similar issues.

Facts of the case are that the appellants had been imposed with life sentences under the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1997 (Minimum Sentences Act). The appellants pleaded that the sentence pronounced by High Court were unfair as it had no power to sentence appellant under the Minimum Sentences Act without making the accused aware of its potential application from the beginning of the Trial i.e. the relevant provision to be mentioned in the charge-sheet.

This Court’s jurisdiction was challenged in this appeal to which the Court viewed that letting know of the charge with details to answer it is a constitutional matter and thus this Court had the jurisdiction to deal with this appeal. Further issue before this Court was whether the state failed adequately to inform the appellants of the minimum sentencing regime at relevant times. Appellants contended that right to fair trial guaranteed under Section 35 (3) of the Constitution was infringed as they were not informed of the application of Minimum Sentences Act and relevant provision of the Act was not mentioned in the charge sheet. Court referred case of S v. Ndlovu, (2017) ZACC 19  and observed that by virtue of this precedent it cannot be said that if accused is not informed of applicability of the Act the trial would be rendered unfair though the same had come in practice, that relevant section of the Act ought to be mentioned in the chargesheet. In case applicable section of the Act is not mentioned then it should be derived from the facts of the case if such omission renders the proceedings unfair or not. Therefore, all the applications for leave to appeal were dismissed. [MT v. State, Case CCT 122 of 17, decided on 03-09-2018]