A Port Elizabeth lawyer who was sentenced to 15 years in jail for fraud has been given the green light to challenge South African sentencing law on an international stage.
South Africa's controversial Minimum Sentencing Act could, in May this year, face international scrutiny by the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights in Ghana - despite the efforts of the South African government to quash the unprecedented legal bid brought by David Price.
In a potentially embarrassing claim against the South African government, father-of-five Price is arguing that his sentence, as implemented by the act, constituted "inhumane and degrading treatment" and was "inhumane". He is also seeking reparations from the government.
Price was 56 when he was released on parole from St Albans Medium B prison last year, after serving seven years of his sentence.
In his fight to have his sentence reduced, Price was told by judges in the Eastern Cape high and Bloemfontein supreme courts that they would have opted to sentence him to an effective eight-year jail term for his part in a multimillion-rand insurance-related cheque fraud, were it not for the Minimum Sentencing Act.
Under this act, courts can only deviate from prescribed sentences for certain serious crimes if they find there are "substantial and compelling circumstances" that justify a lesser sentence.
In Price's case, neither the high or supreme courts could find that such circumstances existed - and so he was given a sentence equivalent to that given for murder
After failing to challenge his "disproportionate" sentence in the constitutional court, which dismissed his application without hearing any argument about it, Price - supported by an anonymous benefactor - became the first South African to ask the International Human Rights Committee in Switzerland to intervene.
full story from IOL here