Life imprisonment in South Africa

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Life imprisonment is mandatory in South Africa for offences of premeditated murder, gang rape, serial rape and rape where the rapist knew they were HIV positive or if the victim was under 18 and/or mentally disabled. In certain circumstances, robberies and hijackings also carry a mandatory life sentence.

Section 51 of South Africa's Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1997 prescribes the minimum sentences for other types of murders, rapes and robberies to 25, 15 and 10 years respectively, so parole is almost always granted to prisoners serving life sentences after the minimum sentence for the lesser crime has been served. However, a prisoner must be given a parole hearing after having served 25 years.

In special cases, life imprisonment without any possibility of parole or pardon for an extensively long period of time (such as 1,000 years) can be imposed, such as in the case of serial killer Moses Sithole.

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