17 June 2024

International Cases

Machi v The State

South Africa



In the absence of demonstrable and material misdirection, Trial Court’s findings of fact are presumed to be correct

The Appellant was arrested and charged with murder. Appellant raised an alibi defence during trial before the South Gauteng High Court (trial court). This was rejected by the trial court and he was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. He successfully obtained leave to appeal to the full court of that Division against the conviction and the resultant sentence. The full court dismissed the appeal against conviction but set aside the sentence of life imprisonment imposed. It substituted it with one of 20 years’ imprisonment. This Court granted the appellant special leave to appeal against both the conviction and sentence.

It is trite that in the absence of demonstrable and material misdirection a trial court’s findings of fact is presumed to be correct and that they will only be disregarded on appeal if the recorded evidence shows them to be clearly wrong. It is against this principle that the credibility and factual findings made by the trial court, and decried by the Appellant, must be considered.

The sum total of all the pieces of the proven facts from the evidence of all the witnesses called by the State, when sewn together, creates an impregnable mosaic of proof that the appellant was at the garage at the time the deceased was killed.

There were three issues for determination; whether the circumstantial evidence relied by the state in view of the contradictions that were pointed out, was sufficient and reliable to prove that Appellant was at the scene of crime; whether he acted in common purpose with the alleged shooter; and whether the reduced sentence was harsh. There was no demonstrable irregularity shown in the manner in which the trial court evaluated the evidence. The contradictions were not fatal to affect the credibility of evidence of witnesses. The confirmation of the conviction by the full court could not be faulted; and that there was no reason to interfere with the sentence reduced by the full court. The SCA dismissed the appeal against both the conviction and sentence.

Tags : Conviction Evidence Credibility

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