State v. Britz

In this case, the court overturned a “strikingly short” two-year sentence imposed on the defendant, who was convicted of attempting to kill his ex-girlfriend by stabbing her three times, including once near her eye, with a knife while she was holding her 2-year-old child. Despite the severity of the crime and finding that the defendant exhibited no remorse for his actions, the presiding magistrate only imposed a two-year jail sentence, citing the defendant’s personal circumstances as the sole breadwinner and caretaker for his three children and his ill grandmother.  Although trial courts have discretion to determine punishment, the High Court refused to confirm the sentence and would only confirm the conviction, citing the three principles of sentencing: the personal circumstances of the accused, the nature of the crime, and the interests of society. The Court directed the Registrar to provide a copy of this decision to the Prosecutor-General, explaining that while taking the defendant’s circumstances into account is proper, the two-year sentence was unjust because of the severity of the crime and the prevalence of violence against women and children. 



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