Mandatory Sentences of Imprisonment in Common Law Jurisdictions: Some Representative Models

Appendix E

South Africa

First Level: Imprisonment for Life

Offence (Part I of Schedule 2):

Rape

  • (a) when committed
    1. in circumstances where the victim was raped more than once whether by the accused or by any co-perpetrator or accomplice;
    2. by more than one person, where such persons acted in the execution or furtherance of a common purpose or conspiracy;
    3. by a person who has been convicted of two or more offences of rape, but has not yet been sentenced in respect of such convictions; or
    4. by a person, knowing that he has the acquired immune deficiency syndrome or the human immunodeficiency virus;
  • (b) where the victim –
    1. is a girl under the age of 16 years;
    2. is a physically disabled woman who due to her physical disability, is rendered particularly vulnerable; or
    3. is a mentally ill woman as contemplated in section 1 of the Mental Health Act , 1973 ( Act No. 18 of 1973); or
  • (c) involving the infliction of grievous bodily harm.

Second Level: Lesser terms of custody

First offender: imprisonment for not less than 15 years:
Second offender of any such offence, to imprisonment for a period of not less than 20 years;
Third or subsequent offender of any such offence, to imprisonment for not less than 25 years

Offences (from Part II of Schedule 2):

  • Robbery—
    1. when there are aggravating circumstances; or
    2. involving the taking of a motor vehicle
  • Any offence referred to in section 13(f) of the Drugs and Trafficking Act , 1992 if it is proved that –
    1. the value of the dependence producing substance in question is more than R50,000
    2. the value of the dependence producing substance in question is more than R10,000 and the offence was committed by a person, group of persons, syndicate or any enterprise acting in the execution or furtherance of a common purpose or conspiracy; or
    3. the offence was committed by any law enforcement officer.
  • Any offence relating to-
    1. the dealing or smuggling of ammunition, firearms, explosives or armament;
      or
    2. the possession of an automatic or semi-automatic firearm, explosives or armament.
  • Any offence relating to exchange control, corruption, extortion, fraud, forgery, uttering or theft –
    1. involving amounts of more than R500,000;
    2. involving amounts of more than R100,000 if it is proved that the offence was committed by a person, group of persons, syndicate or any enterprise acting in the execution or furtherance of a common purpose or conspiracy by any law enforcement officer –
      1. involving amounts of more than R10,000; or
      2. as a member of a group of persons, syndicate or any enterprise acting in the execution or furtherance of a common purpose or conspiracy.

Limited Judicial Discretion

As noted, courts have some discretion to impose a more lenient sentence:

(3) (a) If any court referred to in subsection (1) or (2) is satisfied that substantial and compelling circumstances exist which justify the imposition of a lesser sentence than the sentence prescribed in those subsections, it shall enter those circumstances on the record of the proceedings and may thereupon impose such lesser sentence.

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