Judge dismisses rapist’s appeal against 27-year sentence
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Cape Town - A Western Cape High Court judge has dismissed an appeal by a convict who claimed a magistrate had erred in giving him a cumulative 27-year sentence as opposed to life imprisonment with possible release on parole after only 25 years.
Monwabisi Zinjanje was one of three people sentenced by the Regional Court at Wynberg on charges of rape, for which he received a 15-year prison sentence as well as 12 years for housebreaking with intent to rob and robbery with aggravating circumstances.
In his appeal against the sentences for the crimes, which occurred on July 23, 2010 and to which he pleaded not guilty in May 2011, Zinjanje argued that the magistrate did not apply section 280(2) of the Criminal Procedure Act and had she done so, she would have achieved a lesser sentence overall.
He also argued that the sentences imposed upon one of his accomplices were to run concurrently, but that the magistrate failed to make a similar order for him.
During the original trial, the State presented the evidence of 14 witnesses in support of the charges against Zinjanje and his co-accused.
There were 21 exhibits received during the course of the trial, which began in 2011 but was riddled with various delays, mainly on the part of the defence. The evidence was concluded in 2018.
Judge Mas-Udah Pangarker said: “In my view, the first ground of appeal that the cumulative sentence of 27 years’ imprisonment is contrary to what life imprisonment would mean for a person to be released on parole, must fail.
“There is absolutely no indication on record that the magistrate ever considered the question of parole in respect of the sentences she intended imposing, even recognising that the rape conviction attracts life imprisonment.
“I agree with the State’s counsel that if the appellant is not released on parole after 25 years, he would be released at the expiry of the 27-year sentence period, but I must also add that he may well be placed on parole after serving four fifths of the 27 years, which would be less than 25 years,” said Judge Pangarker.
She said that the decision as to whether or not Zinjanje achieves parole lies within the discretion and authority of Correctional Services and not the sentencing court and therefore the appeal had failed and the original sentence was confirmed.