A first for regional court

2008-02-04 00:00

PMB Regional Court magistrate Rose Mogwera became the first regional magistrate to hand down a life sentence on an offender last week in terms of new legislation.

Previously only high court judges could impose life terms.

Mogwera applied the new law when she jailed school-teacher Philip Shelembe (34) for life for the rape of a girl under the age of 16.

Shelembe was found guilty of having raped a 13-year-old girl in his cottage in Swayimane, Wartburg, in 2004.

The new legislation — permitting regional court magistrates to impose minimum prescribed sentences, including life imprisonment, on offenders convicted of specific categories of crime — came into effect on January 1.

The law provides that these minimum prescribed sentences must be imposed unless a court is satisfied that compelling and substantial circumstances exist justifying the imposition of a lesser sentence. The rape of a child under 16 is one of the crimes for which life imprisonment is the minimum.

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