Despite confirming in several decisions that the striking down of the mandatory death penalty in Kafantayeni v. Attorney General entitled all offenders sentenced under the mandatory death penalty regime to a fresh hearing on sentence, the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal (MSCA) entertained appeals against the original (now unconstitutional) mandatory death sentences in the absence of resentencing hearings in the High Court. The question that arose in Rep v. Chimkango was whether the High Court has the jurisdiction to hold a resentencing hearing in respect of a death sentence which had already been confirmed by the MSCA on appeal. The High Court, considering itself bound by judicial precedent and wary of running afoul of the doctrine by ‘faulting or refusing to be bound by’ the MSCA's decision, remitted the case to the MSCA for directions or resentencing. This article explores the High Court's decision and the status of appeal decisions against mandatory death sentences before the resentencing hearings. It argues that by entertaining these appeals, the MSCA dubiously assumed an original criminal jurisdiction mode within the confines of appellate principles instead of dismissing them as premature and directing the appellants to pursue a resentencing hearing in the High Court. The article also faults the decision of the High Court for not affording the accused a resentencing hearing.
African Journal of International and Comparative Law – Edinburgh University Press
Published: Nov 1, 2018