S v Juvenile 1989 (2) ZLR 61 (SC); 1990 (4) SA 151 (ZS): Constitutionality of sentences of corporal punishment imposed upon juveniles

This appeal dealt with the constitutionality of sentences of corporal punishment imposed upon juveniles in terms of s330 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act. Section 15(1) of the Constitution provides that no person shall be subject to inhuman or degrading punishment. The Supreme Court in S v Ncube & Ors (2) ZLR 246 (SC) held that the carrying out of corporal punishment on adults in terms of s 109 of the Prison Regulations 1956 was unconstitutional being barbaric, inherently brutal and cruel. Dumbetshena CJ found that the strictures applied to corporal punishment of adults would apply a fortiori to such punishment when inflicted on juveniles. McNally JA in his dissenting judgment disagreed with the notion that there is inevitable brutalisation in the imposition of juvenile cuts. He further disagreed with the suggestion that all corporal punishment is ipso facto unconstitutional. He considered it inappropriate that the courts should intervene in the disputes of pedagogues about matters of discipline. The question of corporal punishment in schools was a matter for policy determined by pedagogues and educational psychologists.

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