ZACC 20
Judgement Date:17 May 2019
Post Judgment Media Summary
The following explanatory note is provided to assist the media in reporting this case and is not binding on the Constitutional Court or any member of the Court.
On Friday, 17 May 2019 at 10h00, the Constitutional Court handed down judgment in an application for leave to appeal against a decision of the High Court. The High Court convicted and sentenced the applicant, Mr Shipalana, on charges of murder and kidnapping. Mr Shipalana sought to appeal against those convictions and sentences.
The High Court found that the deceased had been abducted and assaulted over a long period of time, and that the applicant was present when the various assaults that led to the deceased’s death took place and had participated in trying to hide the deceased’s body. The Constitutional Court considered that the matter in the normal course would have been dismissed on the ground that it sought to overturn factual findings of the High Court, which is not a ground for this Court to exercise its jurisdiction. However, due to the renewed scrutiny over this Court’s jurisdiction in respect of the application of the common purpose doctrine in criminal matters, precaution was taken to call for written argument on the question of jurisdiction.
In a judgment without a hearing, the Court held that condonation of the late filing of the application for leave to appeal should be granted. On the merits, the Court held that on the facts of this case there was no question of a misapplication of the doctrine of common purpose. Therefore, the question whether the misapplication of the doctrine constituted a constitutional issue was immaterial. Accordingly, the Court refused leave to appeal on the ground that it was not in the interests of justice to grant it in these circumstances.
The Full judgment here