Law Society wants consistency from courts

2012-10-09 21:36

Johannesburg - More consistency is needed in sentencing by the courts, the Law Society of SA (LSSA) said on Tuesday.

"This is particularly important in cases dealing with sentences imposed on rapists and sexual abusers of children," co-chairs Krish Govender and Jan Stemmett said in a statement.

"There have been a number of judgments recently where the life sentences imposed on rapists for the rape of minors have been reduced by higher courts on appeal."

The LSSA said it respected the principle of judicial discretion, however it did not address the perceived unjustified and unacceptable disparity in sentences.

"This must be addressed in order for the judiciary to maintain the respect that it demands from the public at large," Govender and Stemmett said.

"The time has come to reconsider the proposals for a sentencing council to be established to review legislation and sentencing guidelines."

These proposals were made by the SA Law Reform Commission in 2000.

The proposals were meant to address concerns that particular offences were not being treated with the appropriate degree of seriousness by the courts.

Govender and Stemmett said that when judgments attracted the media and public interest the courts should explain their reasoning in layman's terms, especially when sentences were decreased.

"The constant criticism of sentences which have been reduced on appeal involving rapists and abusers of women and children must be better anticipated by members of the judiciary."

  • kim.buren - 2012-10-09 21:41

    Agree, start at the top, being Death Sentence and then work down

      Willie Olivier - 2012-10-10 06:11

      ons sal weer die Hof respekteer as hulle die doodstraf terug bring. Op die oomblik sien ons die Hofgesag as n' grap!

  • Nigel - 2012-10-10 06:50

    If we consider just the violent crime figures or crimes that involve violence, then to me much harsher measures should be implemented regarding sentencing. The Judge passing sentence should IMHO take into account the unacceptable high crime figures in SA when it comes to armed robbery, murder, rape etc, and the community is crying out for relief from these violent crimes. Dishing out minimum or average sentences when the country is in a crime crisis and has been for years just doesn't make any sense. In my experience, some years back, it was 100% acceptable to take this into consideration. I don't feel this is the case anymore. For example, reducing a life sentence to 15 years is a huge difference and shows no consistency at all. Could the first court passing life sentence really have got it so wrong?

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