- Per Mr Lucky Shange in a news item that appeared in News 24 dated 17 February 2018
According to the news item referred to supra, the 40-year-old Mr Lucky Shange was arrested in 1998. He spent two years being incarcerated as a remand detainee (Afrikaans: “uitstel-aangehoudene”) before being convicted in the regional court during 2000 of murder, robbery with aggravated circumstances and the unlawful possession of a firearm. Mr Shange was ultimately sentenced to life incarceration.
On 8 November 2001 his appeal to a full bench of three judges before the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, was dismissed.
On 8 September 2015 the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein (“the SCA”) granted Mr Shange leave to appeal to the SCA. This appeal was heard on 2 May 2017 before a full bench of five SCA judges who held that –
(1) The appeal is upheld;
(2) the convictions and sentences in respect of Mr Shange were set aside; and
(3) Mr Shange is to be released from custody with immediate effect.
Accordingly, Pollex traced the official, verbatim (word for word), three-page-long SCA judgment cited as Shange v S (613/2016)  ZASCA 51 (2 May 2017). From this judgment it appears that the regional magistrate had not sat with assessors, as required by section 93ter(1) of the Magistrates’ Court Act 32 of 1944 (remember the charge was “murder”). Furthermore, Mr Shange was not legally represented throughout the trial in the regional court. There is also, according to the SCA, nothing on the record to suggest that he was ever made aware of the requirement that the regional magistrate sits with assessors or of his right to choose whether assessors assist with the trial. The regional magistrate nowhere recorded that he had made such a request. Mr Shange’s co-accused was legally represented but there is nothing to show that he was given any choice either. And the transcription of the trial and appearance pages state nowhere that she had sat with assessors.