via Mnangagwa backs mandatory rape sentence – DailyNews Live 24 July 2014 by Lloyd Mbiba
HARARE – Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa has backed harsh minimum mandatory sentences for rapists, but said the punishment should not apply in special circumstances.
Mnangagwa told legislators during question time in the National Assembly on Tuesday that it was important to prescribe mandatory sentences against crimes that violate other people’s rights such as the crime of rape.
He spoke amid a mounting clamour by women groups to impose harsher sentences to curb mounting rape crimes.
“The benefits of enacting mandatory sentence in rape outweigh its disadvantages,” Mnangagwa said.
But the minister said mandatory sentencing has worked well in other jurisdictions as it poses a deterrent factor and reduces the time courts need to decide on an appropriate sentence.
“However, it is vital that special circumstances be provided for in order to ensure mitigating and aggravating factors are taken into consideration since mandatory sentencing has been applied in other prevalent crimes such as stock theft and illegal possession of precious stones and minerals,” he said.
“It is worth noting, however, that prescribing mandatory sentence for the crime of rape should be done with utmost caution.
“It should, therefore, not follow that in every rape case, the mandatory sentence is given because the crime of rape happens in different circumstances. The factors that are laid out in section 65 of the Criminal Codification and Reform Act should continue to play in deciding the appropriate sentence of rape.”
Mandatory sentencing is a form of punitive sentencing where the legislature enacts a minimum sentence for a particular offence.