Belief in “witchcraft” as mitigating factor in sentencing inappropriate

Four men found guilty of murdering Nosayinethe Manundu (92) following accusations of “witchcraft” against her, have each been sentenced to 17 years imprisonment. The Judge regarded the men’s subjective belief in witchcraft, as a mitigating factor compelling a deviation from the prescribed minimum sentence of life imprisonment.

See: Judge says their beliefs were a mitigating factor

The consideration of a belief in “witchcraft” as a mitigating factor in sentencing is wholly inappropriate as this will not discourage further accusations of witchcraft or witch-hunts. The purpose of sentencing must be deterrence. Our courts must not lend credence to the perpetrators unproveable “beliefs” that motivated violence against the victim.