Mandatory Sentences of Imprisonment in Common Law Jurisdictions: Some Representative Models

Appendix E

South Africa

First Level: Imprisonment for Life

Offence (Part I of Schedule 2):


  • (a) when committed
    1. in circumstances where the victim was raped more than once whether by the accused or by any co-perpetrator or accomplice;
    2. by more than one person, where such persons acted in the execution or furtherance of a common purpose or conspiracy;
    3. by a person who has been convicted of two or more offences of rape, but has not yet been sentenced in respect of such convictions; or
    4. by a person, knowing that he has the acquired immune deficiency syndrome or the human immunodeficiency virus;
  • (b) where the victim –
    1. is a girl under the age of 16 years;
    2. is a physically disabled woman who due to her physical disability, is rendered particularly vulnerable; or
    3. is a mentally ill woman as contemplated in section 1 of the Mental Health Act , 1973 ( Act No. 18 of 1973); or
  • (c) involving the infliction of grievous bodily harm.

Second Level: Lesser terms of custody

First offender: imprisonment for not less than 15 years:
Second offender of any such offence, to imprisonment for a period of not less than 20 years;
Third or subsequent offender of any such offence, to imprisonment for not less than 25 years

Offences (from Part II of Schedule 2):

Limited Judicial Discretion

As noted, courts have some discretion to impose a more lenient sentence:

(3) (a) If any court referred to in subsection (1) or (2) is satisfied that substantial and compelling circumstances exist which justify the imposition of a lesser sentence than the sentence prescribed in those subsections, it shall enter those circumstances on the record of the proceedings and may thereupon impose such lesser sentence.

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