Twenty Years of Constitutional Court Judgments: What Lessons are there about Sentencing?

  • Stephan S Terblanche University of South Africa
Keywords: Constitutionality of sentences; sentencing law; cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment; minimum sentences in South Africa


This contribution considers the Constitutional Court’s judgments about aspects of sentencing over the last 20 years, since its establishment. The article starts with an overview of relevant judgments, before attending in more detail to judgments on the minimum sentences legislation and on sentencing when it affects children. On this foundation the article then discusses the human rights that are affected by the imposition of sentences on offenders, notable the right not to be punished in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way, and the right to dignity. It points out various aspects of the law that need further clarification. The article ends with a consideration of a possible next chapter in sentencing law and submits that this is most likely in connection with minimum sentences.


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S v GL 2010 2 SACR 488 (WCC)

S v Hartmann 1975 3 SA 532 (C)

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S v Jimenez 2003 1 SACR 507 (SCA)

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S v Londe 2011 1 SACR 377 (ECG)

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S v Pillay 2011 2 SACR 409 (SCA)

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S v RO 2010 2 SACR 248 (SCA)

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S v Segole 1999 2 SACR 115 (W)

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Constitutional Court of South Africa “History of the Court” date unknown accessed 5 July 2016
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