Back to RJ Archive

South African mandatory minimum sentencing: Reform required.

Roth, Sandra M.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2008) Minnesota Journal of International Law. 17(1): 155-182.

In 1997, the South African Parliament enacted Section 51 of Criminal Law Amendment Act 105 of 1997 (“the Act”)
in an effort to remedy increasing crime rates, increase public satisfaction with the criminal justice system, and decrease
sentencing disparities. … The Committee’s research indicated that general justifications for these nations’ guideline and
mandatory minimum sentencing regimes included the following: retribution, incapacitation, reducing disparity, and
inducement of cooperation. … Specifically seeking to deter violent crime and reduce sentencing disparity, the South
African Parliament chose the mandatory minimum option and specified the reform in Section 51 of the Act, which went
into effect on May 1, 1998. … Plea bargaining, a mechanism added to the South African criminal justice system in 2001,
also has the potential to thwart implementation of the Act’s mandatory minimum sentencing provisions. … While the
legislative guidelines option takes harm and potential offender remorse – both restorative justice principles – into account,
it does not make available restorative justice processes, such as the opportunity to reconcile relationships between
the victim and the offender or the opportunity of the victim, the community, and the offender to participate in
sentencing determination. (Author’s abstract)


AbstractEvaluation/StudyReportRJ and the WorkplaceRJ in SchoolsRJ OfficeTeachers and Students
Support the cause

We've Been Restoring Justice for More Than 40 Years

Your donation helps Prison Fellowship International repair the harm caused by crime by emphasizing accountability, forgiveness, and making amends for prisoners and those affected by their actions. When victims, offenders, and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results are transformational.

Donate Now