Reaching A Verdict: The impact of minimum sentencing
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The so-called ‘temporary’ minimum sentencing legislation introduced into South African law in 1998 is still in place. The legislation was passed largely in response to high crime rates at the time and the perceived leniency of the courts, and prescribes minimum sentences ranging from five years’ to life imprisonment for a variety of offences (including murder and rape and a range of other crimes, some of which are non-violent). Given the current furore over crime, it is highly likely that in April this year the legislation will be renewed for another year. But what has the impact of the legislation been and what legislative changes should be considered?