Sikazwe v. The People

The appellant was charged with incest contrary to Section 159(1) of the Penal Code but was convicted of the lesser charge of indecent assault contrary to Section 137(1) as amended by Act No. 15 of 2005, Cap 871, as the medical evidence ‘left a lot to be desired’ (as described by the Magistrate). However, when the matter was sent to the High Court for sentencing, the sentencing judge substituted the charge of indecent assault with incest and sentenced the appellant to 20 years imprisonment with hard labor. The appellant appealed this conviction and sentence on the basis that the Magistrate “erred in law and fact when he tried and convicted the appellant without the Director of Public Prosecutions’ consent.” In support of this argument, the appellant noted that the instructions of the Director of Public Prosecutions were to try the appellant for rape not incest. Therefore, in the absence of express consent by the Director of Public Prosecutions as required by Section 164 of the Penal Code, Cap 871, the trial court had jurisdiction neither to hear the matter nor to proceed to convict the appellant on indecent assault and sentence him to 20-year term for incest. The Supreme Court reviewed the letter from the Director of Public Prosecutions and noted that, while the first paragraph gave the impression that he had sanctioned the prosecution to go ahead with the charge of incest, the remainder of the letter made it clear that he had also sanctioned the appellant’s prosecution on a charge of either rape or defilement. The Supreme Court also noted that the latter could potentially enable a conviction of indecent assault under the relevant provisions of the Penal Code. Thus, the Supreme Court confirmed that the Director of Public Prosecutions rightly guided the prosecution and the court below to invoke whichever of these provisions as necessary. Moreover, the Supreme Court stated that the Magistrate rightly concluded that ‘the medical evidence left a lot to be desired.’ Ultimately, it concluded that the appellant was not guilty of the offence of rape, but that he was guilty of the offence of indecent assault contrary to Section 137 of the Penal Code and that the sentencing judge was mistaken to sentence the appellant for incest. The Supreme Court quashed the incest conviction, but still upheld the conviction for indecent assault and imposed a 20-year prison sentence.



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