Habeenzu v. The People

The appellant was charged in the Subordinate Court of attempted rape contrary to Section 137 of the Penal Code, Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia. The statement of offence read defilement, contrary to Section 138 of the Penal Code. The appellant was convicted of indecent assault, a minor offence per Section 181(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code. The appellant appealed on two grounds. First, the statement of offence was defective, as (i) it did not specify the offence by section and subsection of the provision of the law contravened, and (ii) it was amended late which was unjust. Second, on the available evidence, a court could not have properly convicted appellant for attempted rape or indecent assault because the allegation of attempted rape impliedly includes both an allegation of assault and of indecency; on the facts, there was only an element of indecency (and not assault). The Supreme Court rejected both grounds of appeal on the basis that: (i), indecent assault, attempted rape, rape and defilement are offences of the same genus and therefore a defendant charged with attempted rape may be convicted of a lesser related charge like indecent assault; (ii) the appellant had an opportunity to defend himself in relation to the alternative charge, so there was no constitutional violation of the fairness of the trial; and (iii) the findings of fact were in accordance with the evidence on the record, as the appellant was ‘caught in the act’ and there was medical evidence of injuries sustained by the victim. Accordingly, there was no reason to interfere with the findings of fact or the minimum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment imposed by the sentencing judge. The Court dismissed the appeal.



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