8 April 2013

Tanzania: Man Gets Life Sentence for Raping Girl

THE Court of Appeal has sentenced an Arusha resident, Pius Felix, to life imprisonment for raping a minor. At the time the offence was committed, in 2005, the victim (name withheld) was eight years old.

Justices January Msoffe, Sauda Mjasiri and Ibrahim Juma sustained the conviction of Felix for the offence, but reversed the 30 years jail term plus six strokes of the cane earlier imposed on him by the trial court and later upheld by the High Court on September 6, 2010, as it was illegal.

According to the panel, often times the Court has said that it would not allow an illegal sentence to stand, having been made aware of its illegality. "We find the conviction of the appellant (Felix) deserving. But we set aside the sentence of 30 years imprisonment and six strokes of the cane.

In its stead, we impose a sentence of life imprisonment as mandated by Section 131 (3) of the Penal Code," the justices ruled. Such provision reads, "Notwithstanding the preceding provisions of this Section whoever commits an offence of rape to a girl under the age of 10 years shall on conviction be sentenced to life imprisonment."

Facts of the case show that the victim of rape was on June 15, 2005 at around 15.00 grazing cattle in the fields on the outskirts of the City of Arusha. She decided to go home for lunch. On her way home, she met Felix, whom she knew very well.

The appellant grabbed the young girl and not only had sexual intercourse with her by force, but also warned her that she would be killed if she would tell anyone of the incident. The following day, the victim first narrated her ordeal to her sister, who later alerted their mother.

The incident was reported to the police, who issued the victim a PF3 for treatment. On September 12, 2005, after his trial, Felix was convicted of the offence. He crossed over to the High Court, but Judge Augustine Shayo dismissed the appeal after finding nothing to fault the lower court's findings.

Having being aggrieved by such decision, Felix turned to the Court of Appeal to challenge both conviction and sentence imposed. In their judgment, the justices found no reason to doubt the competence of the victim to testify on what happened to her on June 15, 2005.

"We are in no doubt that the offence was proven against the appellant. In our opinion, there was sufficient evidence to prove penetration and rape committed by the appellant," the justices said.

They added: "The evidence of victim in graphical details described how the appellant grabbed her, peeled off all her clothes, took off his manhood and inserted it into her genitalia where she passes out urine."

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