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Minister on mandatory rape sentences


Minister on mandatory rape sentences


While a mandatory sentence for aggravated rape — rape of a child, gang rape and rape by person who knew he was infected with HIV — needs to be enacted into the criminal code, with 20 years prison suggested, it must still be lower than the sentence for murder so the rapist is not tempted to kill the person he assaults, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ziyambi Ziyambi told the National Assembly yesterday.

Responding to a report by the Portfolio Committee on Women Affairs, Gender, Community and SMEs Development calling for mandatory sentences for rape and other sexual offences, he said his Ministry acknowledged that the sentence for rape and sexual offences must fully reflect the depravity and seriousness of the crime.

“Offences such as raping children, gang rape and rape where the offender knew they were infected with HIV are categorised as life threatening to the victim. Thus a stiffer custodial sentence of such offences to match the severity of the crime would be appropriate.

“The level of such a mandatory sentence must not, however, be the same as the mandatory sentence for murder in aggravating circumstances because the rapist might then be motivated to murder his victim after he has raped her. It shall be recommended to Cabinet that the mandatory penalty for rape in aggravating circumstances be at 20 years minimum,” he said

Minister Ziyambi said previous consultations had also shown the need to broaden the focus of the proposed amendments to the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and revisit all sexual offences provided in the law.

“These include matters such as the minimum age of consent for the purposes of rape, the definition of rape and whether there should continue to be separate offences of rape and aggravated indecent assault,” Minister Ziyambi said.

Aggravated indecent assault is normally the charge at the moment when dealing with what in some countries is called homosexual rape and is dealt with under the same law and in the same way as rape.

He said other proposed categories that should be included in the law include; gang rape; child rape, that is raping girls or a male who commits aggravated indecent assault on a boy; rape where the offender knew that they were infected with HIV at the time of the offence; rape of a person with disability; rape of the elderly.

“We shall further recommend that a register of sex offenders be created to allow monitoring and control of such offenders on their release from prison,” he said.

Such registers are increasingly common around the world and are used to stop, for example, anyone with a criminal record of sexually assaulting children from having anything to do with children again.

Minister Ziyambi said the Judicial Conference Council on Sentencing Guidelines to be held in between September 14-17 would discuss the matter of mandatory sentencing.

“The conference shall study the inconsistencies in sentencing including for rape and also make recommendations on offences which require mandatory sentencing and those that have outlived their purpose,” he said.

Contributing to the debate Proportional Representative Ms Spiwe Muchenje harsher penalties should also be meted out on those who rape relatives.

“People who rape relatives like a father raping his daughter, son raping his mother and so on should be dealt heavily,” she said.

Gokwe-Chireya legislator Cde Torerayi Moyo proposed that convicted male rapists should be castrated while Cde Tendai Nyabani said women who make false rape allegations should be sentenced like convicted rapists.

Nkayi South legislator Cde Stars Mathe said mandatory and harsher penalties were necessary to deter cases of rape.

“The law should ensure that those convicted of rape are punished heavily because rape is a traumatic experience,” she said. Herald

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