Spotlight on Transkei law

THE Constitutional Court yesterday heard argument on whether it is right for criminals before the courts of the erstwhile Transkei to receive different sentences than those sentenced elsewhere in the country.

THE Constitutional Court yesterday heard argument on whether it is right for criminals before the courts of the erstwhile Transkei to receive different sentences than those sentenced elsewhere in the country.

Convicts Kholekile Thunzi and Siyabulela Mlonzi were sentenced in district magistrate's courts in the region under the Dangerous Weapons Act as it is applied in Transkei.

In the rest of the country, magistrate's courts cannot apply a minimum sentence higher than three years. If the crime warrants a higher sentence, it should be referred to a regional court. But in Transkei, an apartheid era law enables the magistrate's court to apply a minimum sentence of between three to eight years.

"Then criminals can move to another area where they have a less serious threat of a severe sentence?" asked Judge Johan van der Westhuizen during the argument.

The advocate for the applicants, Lilla Crouse, said: "It has been in place for the last 15 years, it should end." She said some people were serving longer sentences than they should.

Judgment was reserved. - Sapa

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