A full bench of three high court judges has re-affirmed that the mandatory death penalty in Tanzania is constitutionally valid. No new factors had been given to the court to indicate that anything had changed since the last time the issue was considered by the judiciary, said the judges, so they could not vary the previous decisions or rehear the issue ‘on the same facts’. But, they said, the issue could be taken to the highest court via review if the petitioners felt strongly about the matter.
When Thai judge Khanakorn Pianchana reached the end of the judgment in a case he had been hearing, he read out a statement. He next walked from the bench to bow before a portrait of Thai King, Maha Vajiralongkorn. Then he took a pistol from his pocket and shot himself. He was immediately rushed to hospital where he is now reported as out of danger. But what caused the judge to take such dramatic and potentially fatal action?
A recent witchcraft trial in Tanzania has led to a further seven people being added to the well over 500 convicts believed to be on death row. The case illustrates the difficult position in which Tanzanian courts find themselves: the death penalty is still applicable to murder and a few other serious offences and just three months ago the high court declared it was unable to change the law in relation to the death penalty. This despite the country’s president, John Magufuli, declaring that he would be unable to sign the documents required for anyone to be actually executed. He would find it just too difficult to do so, he said. So, while capital punishment has not been carried out for the last 25 years, the courts continue to pass the death penalty, and the numbers of condemned prisoners continues to grow.
The South African government is amending the law concerning customary marriages to bring it in line with constitutional jurisprudence. On 24 July 2019, Cabinet approved the submission of the Recognition of Customary Marriages Amendment Bill of 2019 to Parliament. The Bill is currently under consideration by the National Assembly. Fasken candidate attorney Mr. Selby Mathebula writes about these changes.
Kenya’s constitution says that the currency of that country ‘shall not’ bear the 'portrait' of any individual. So, when new bank notes were issued earlier this year, depicting the Kenyatta International Convention Centre with Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, clearly distinguishable, seated alongside the building, the question arose whether the new notes were constitutional. Two of the presiding judges felt they had to solve the legal conundrum by deciding whether the bank notes bore a ‘portrait’ of Kenyatta - or if it was just a picture of a statue.