Weapons law back in ConCourt

2010-11-10 15:17
Cape Town – South Africa's apartheid-era laws on dangerous weapons will again come under the spotlight in the Constitutional Court on Thursday.

The court will be hearing argument on whether the weapons laws passed by the former Bantustans – which are still in force in those areas – should be scrapped forthwith, or whether Parliament should be given a chance to rationalise the legislation.

The matter stems from the conviction of two Eastern Cape men, Kholekile Thunzi and Siyabulela Mlonzi, sentenced to five and an effective four years in jail respectively for use of dangerous weapons in acts of violence.

The Bantustan act carries harsher penalties than its "South African" equivalent.

In a hearing earlier this year, the Constitutional Court ordered the director of public prosecutions in Mthatha to withdraw all pending prosecutions under section 4 of the act.

Appeal

It also asked Legal Aid South Africa to help people who had been jailed under the section, to seek an appeal or review.

It set November 11 as a date to hear argument from parties, including Parliament and the justice ministry, on whether there was a constitutional obligation on Parliament to establish uniform legislation on the use of dangerous weapons in the former Bantustans.

Lawyers acting for Thunzi and Mlonzi, however, contend the duplicate laws should be simply set aside as irrational and therefore unconstitutional.

Section 4 of the Transkei Dangerous Weapons Act, which lays down minimum sentences, kicks in when a person has been convicted of a crime of violence involving a dangerous weapon.

Thunzi had been convicted of assault with intent to do bodily harm.

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