LIFE IMPRISONMENT FOR RAPE

S v MASENYA 2018 (1) SACR 407 (GP)

Rape — Sentence — Life imprisonment — Prescribed minimum sentence in terms of Criminal Law Amendment Act 105 of 1997 — When applicable — Conviction at same time and in same proceedings for multiple offences of rape — Intention of legislature in enacting item (a)(iii) of part I of sch 2 to Act was that convictions had to have occurred before proceedings and convictions in trial thereafter — Sentences of life imprisonment on each count set aside and replaced with 10 years.

 

The appellant was convicted in a regional magistrates’ court of 11 counts of rape committed between May 2008 and September 2011. The magistrate took the view that, once an accused was convicted in the same trial and on the same day of multiple counts of rape, he fell within the ambit of item (a)(iii) of part I of sch 2 to the Criminal Law Amendment Act 105 of 1997, and a sentence of life imprisonment was obligatory.

Held, that this approach was not justified, by a proper interpretive exercise, and was clearly wrong. The intention of the legislature, as it appeared from the express wording of the provision, was that such convictions had to have occurred before the proceedings and convictions in a particular trial thereafter. (See [10].) The sentences of life imprisonment on all of the counts, except count 8 (which involved the rape of a minor), were set aside and replaced with a sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment on each count.

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