ConCourt to rule on youth's life term

2013-06-05 19:40
The Constitutional Court (Picture: Sapa)

The Constitutional Court (Picture: Sapa)

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Johannesburg - The Constitutional Court is expected to rule on Thursday on a convicted youth's attempt to have his life sentence set aside.

Mandla Trust Mpofu has argued that he was a minor at the time he committed the crime.

He was convicted by the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg in 2001 of murder, pointing a firearm, kidnapping, assault, robbery with aggravating circumstances, and illegal possession of firearms and ammunition - all committed in 1998.

He has served 13 years of his sentence.

The Constitutional Court heard the matter in November.

Mpofu's lawyers argued that the high court had not given due consideration to his age at the time of the offences.

His legal team relied on section 28 of the Constitution, which provides that a child may be imprisoned only as a matter of last resort, and for the shortest possible time.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has opposed the application.

It agreed that constitutional protection of children was vital and that courts had a duty to act in the best interest of child offenders.

"Nonetheless, these principles do not grant impunity to minors who commit crimes. When imposing punishment, a court must consider the gravity of the offence, the interests of society, as well as mitigating circumstances," it argued.

It held that the sentence imposed on Mpofu was correct.

"The trial court correctly took Mpofu's age into account, but his status as a minor was outweighed by his prior conviction and his active participation in the crime," it contended.

The Centre for Child Law was admitted as a friend of the court.

It told the court the Constitution, and foreign and international law all afforded child offenders special protection.

"Accordingly, life imprisonment may only be imposed on child offenders in exceptional cases, as a measure of last resort. The trial court failed to apply these principles," it argued.

Read more on:    npa  |  johannesburg

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