Harsh sentence for mentally ill man
Randburg magistrate, Hambokazi Thwele, has been criticised for sentencing Itumeleng Manda (38) to an effective three months for assault, despite evidence that he was suffering from a mental disability.
According to Sections 78 and 79 of the Criminal Procedure Act, Manda should have been referred for mental observation.
It would have been better for the magistrate to err on the side of caution,’ said Criminal law expert Advocate Nduduzo Jiyane. “The man should have been sent to a district surgeon or a mental health specialist for observation and a proper assessment.
Jiyane said that it was also not appropriate for Manda to be allowed to represent himself if he appeared not to be in a good state of mind.
Mental health expert Bharti Patel from the South African Federation for Mental Health also believes the court did not do enough to afford Manda his full rights as contained in both the country’s Constitution and the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.
Institutions such as courts are obliged to take appropriate measures to provide persons with disabilities with the support they might require in exercising their legal capacity, she said.
[ Posted 28 June 2012 ]