ASSESSING THE IMPACT: Mandatory and minimum sentences in South Africa

  • Julia Sloth-Nielsen University of the Western Cape
  • Louise Ehlers Open Society Foundation for South Africa
Keywords: sentencing, South Africa, minimum sentencing, legislation


The legislation passed in 1997 that provides for mandatory minimum sentences for serious crimes was recently extended for another two years. At the time, the aim was to reduce serious and violent crime, achieve consistency in sentencing, and satisfy the public that sentences were sufficiently severe. This article argues that the legislation has achieved little or no significant impact with regard to these goals. Instead, many agree that the provisions have exacerbated the problem of overcrowding in South African prisons.

Author Biographies

Julia Sloth-Nielsen, University of the Western Cape
Faculty of Law
Louise Ehlers, Open Society Foundation for South Africa

Criminal Justice Initiative

  • Abstract 217
  • PDF 235
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Research articles