Crime does not pay

Written by Silusapho Nyandeni

Peer pressure and the struggles of being unemployed are some of the things that could lead a person into a life of crime – and also land them behind bars.

Vuk’uzenzele spoke to Legal Aid South Africa’s national legal manager Dick Khubana to shed light on the sentencing of different crimes.

“The expression ‘crime does not pay’ has proved to be true time and time again. Apart from the legal consequences that follow from committing crime, there are a number of social consequences such as the indignity of being arrested, damage to social status, bringing shame to family and being labelled as a criminal,” he said.

Khubana said the courts can pass any sentences they see fit, however, there are considerations to this.

“The most severe and most feared sentence a court can pass is imprisonment. However, there are a number of sentencing options that a court can use separately or in combination with imprisonment.”

The sentences that are given for the varying degrees of crimes can go from five years for a domestic violence incident to a life imprisonment sentence for a rape, murder or child abuse conviction.

He said people convicted of attempted murder and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm may face direct imprisonment and the length of their sentence depends on the circumstances of the case.

Khubana said if a person is convicted for possession of drugs or drug smuggling, they can be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison. On the other hand, a criminal convicted of robbery may be sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, he said.

“The minimum sentence for  hijacking is 15 years, depending on the circumstances of the case,” explained Khubana.

There are differing circumstances for cases in which minors are involved. One of those is that children cannot be given life sentences.

“There is a special dispensation for dealing with cases involving those under 18 years old. Children can also receive any sentences, except the sentence of life imprisonment. Children can also not have their names entered in the Register of Sexual Offenders.” 


Did you know?

  • The name of every person who is found guilty of committing a crime is added to a central registry. All people on this list have a criminal record.
  • Having a criminal record can have an effect on finding employment because most employers check for people listed on the Local Criminal Record Centre registry.
  • A person found guilty of a sexual offence such as rape or pornography will have their names entered in the Register of Sexual Offenders in addition to having a criminal record. This person will not be allowed to work with children.
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