EDWARD BHEDHA MAKIWA
HIGH COURT OF ZIMBABWE
BULAWAYO 22 MARCH 2018
MATHONSI J: Both accused persons are aged 18 years, they are both unemployed and hail from Zvishavane. They appeared before a magistrate at Zvishavane and were on 15 February 2018 convicted of three counts of robbery. In count one they were each sentenced to 4 years imprisonment of which 1 year imprisonment was suspended for 5 years on condition of future good behaviour. Of the remaining 3 years 2 months imprisonment was suspended on condition each restitutes the complainant in the sum of $200-00 by 30 April 2018.
In count two each was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment none of which was suspended. In the last count they were each sentenced to 3 years imprisonment of which 2 months imprisonment was suspended on condition they each restitute the complainant the sum of $180-00 by 30 April 2018. This then left the two very youthful offenders with an effective 8 years and 8 months imprisonment, an aggregate sentence which offends all sense of justice. In fact two very critical issues arise from the sentence. Firstly it is that magistrates should avoid by all means suspending extremely small portions of an otherwise very heavy sentence on condition of restitution, when it is obvious that the accused person serving a long term of imprisonment will have no incentive whatsoever to pay restitution under those circumstances.
In order to be meaningful and to benefit an accused person a suspension of part of the sentence on condition of restitution must substantially reduce the sentence so that it will entice the accused person to restitute and derive benefit. Honestly what is the point of suspending two months of a total prison term of well over 8 years. It is pointless because an accused person serving such a long term would rather see it through than to be bothered with looking for money