SWAZILAND: CONSTITUTION SAVES MAN FROM DEATH SENTENCE
November 21, 2012: Swazilandâs Constitution saved a 27-year-old man from getting a death sentence for murder and rape offences.
High Court Judge, Nkululeko Hlophe meted out a 35-year custodial sentence on Mandla Matsebula after being guilty of killing a woman and raping another. He sentenced him to 25 years imprisonment for the murder of Sibongile Sihlongonyane on October 26, 2008 and 10 years for having raped another woman on July 3, in the same year.
Matsebula had pleaded not guilty to the offences and was represented by Justice Mangosuthu Mzizi, while Stanley Dlamini appeared on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Matsebula had also been charged for raping Sihlongonyane, but the Crown withdrew the charge after some evidence was said to have been contaminated.
Judge Hlophe said the rape and murder offences were committed with brutality. He noted that evidence showed that not only did he strangle the woman he killed, but he also stabbed her. He said Matsebulaâs total lack of remorse was an aggravating factor and made the offences more grievous.
Before sentencing, Judge Hlophe said there were no factors reducing Matsebulaâs blameworthiness.
He said had it not been for the intervention of the Constitution, he would have been obliged to issue a death penalty against Matsebula.
He said Section 15 of the Constitution stated that courts were not obliged to issue death penalties where there are no extenuating circumstances in a case. Section 15 (2) states that the death penalty shall not be mandatory.
"Courts have been granted a discretion which should be exercised judiciously.
The sentence will, however, be commensurate with the seriousness of the offence. I will not issue a death sentence. The accused (Matsebula) is 27 years old. I am not, however, giving a precedent that 27-year-olds should not be given capital punishment. I am doing what I am doing looking at the circumstances of the present case," Hlophe explained.
As Judge Hlophe delivered the judgment, Matsebula stood motionless in the accused dock. Hlophe said he had taken into Matsebulaâs favour that he was a first offender and a relatively young person. He said even though he was going to mete out a lengthy sentence, in his view, it would enable Matsebula to return to society after serving his sentence. He also said he had considered that Matsebula cooperated with the police as he even led them to the crime scenes after his arrest.
Judge Hlophe said Matsebulaâs lack of remorse made him doubt that if he was to be given a light sentence, he would not commit similar offences in future.
He ordered that both sentences run consecutively and the first sentence was backdated to October 28, 2008 when he was arrested. (Sources: times.co.sz, 22/11/2012)