Sun Oct 23 05:12:54 CAT 2016

Children's rights groups laud court decision

By unknown | Nov 06, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Zinhle Mapumulo

Zinhle Mapumulo

The decision by the Pretoria high court to declare certain aspects of minimum sentences legislation in matters concerning children unconstitutional, has been welcomed by children's rights groups.

At present the law provides that young offenders of 16 or 17 are to be sentenced according to the minimum sentences when convicted of very serious crimes.

These sentences include life imprisonment or very long sentences of 20 years in prison.

The decision to declare certain parts of this law unconstitutional was taken on Tuesday but has yet to implemented.

Ronaldah Ngidi, an attorney at the Centre for Child Law, said the he was pleased with the outcome but that it was just a first step.

"Until the constitutional court confirms the orders they are of no effect," Ngidi said.

"In the meantime, 16- and 17-year-old's are being sentenced in terms of the existing legislation. We aim to ensure the matter proceeds with haste."

Until the implementation of the Pretoria high court ruling courts were forced to impose the minimum sentences in serious crimes committed by children.

But the high court can overrule this law if the offender shows that there are substantial and compelling reasons to do so.

Now this is about to change. The Child Justice Alliance also welcomed the decision.

"The constitutional court will now pronounce on the issue of minimum sentences for child offenders once and for all," alliance coordinator Jacqui Gallinetti said.


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