Q&A – 1 January 2024

Right to self defence

I am informed that I have a right to self defence and to defend my property. What degree of force can I use in exercising such a right? If a pickpocket robs me, and I am armed with a gun, can I shoot him right there? Please guide me to the exact provisions of the relevant law.
PO, Moshi

The Penal Code has a specific section on your right to defend. However, when you are exercising such a right, you can only use reasonable force which is determined based on the circumstances at that time. If an unarmed pickpocket is shot at and dies, that will likely be excessive force, and you could be convicted of manslaughter (nor murder). However, if there is an armed robber in your house, and there is a chance that he may end up shooting at you, and you shoot him before he does, then considering the circumstances at hand, you cannot be held criminally liable.

The provision of the law that deals with self defence is section 18, which states: 18A. (1) Subject to the provisions of this Code, every person has the right- (a) to defend himself or any other person against any unlawful act or assault or violence to the body; or (b) to defend his own property or any property in his lawful possession, custody or under his care or the property of any other person against any unlawful act of seizure or destruction or violence. (2) In this section, the expression “property of any other person” includes any property belonging to the Government or a public corporation or an employer or any property communally owned by members of the public as a co-operative society or a village, whether or not that village is registered under the Local Government (District Authorities) Act.

Section 18B adds that (1) In exercising the right of self defence or in defence of another or in defence of property, a person shall be entitled to use only such reasonable force as may be necessary for that defence. (2) A person shall be criminally liable for any offence, resulting from excessive force used in self defence or in defence of another or in defence of property. (3) Any person who causes the death of another as the result of excessive force used in defence, shall be guilty of manslaughter.

Moreover, section 18C states that (1) The right of self defence or the defence of another or defence of property shall extend to a person who, in exercising that right, causes death or grievous harm to another and the person so acting, acts in good faith and with an honest belief based on reasonable grounds that his act is necessary for the preservation of his own life or limb or the life or limb of another or of property, in the circumstances where- (a) the lawful act is of such a nature as may reasonably cause the apprehension that his own death or the death of another person could be the consequence of that act; (b) the lawful act is of such a nature as may reasonably cause the apprehension that grievous harm to his own body or the body of another could be the consequence of that unlawful act; (c) the unlawful act is with the intention of committing rape or defilement or an unnatural offence; (d) the unlawful act is with the intention of kidnapping or abducting; or (e) the unlawful act is burglary or robbery or arson or any offence which endangers life or property. (2) Where in the exercise of a right of defence in accordance with this Code, the person exercising that right is in such a situation that he cannot effectively exercise that right without risk of harm to an innocent person or property, his right of defence extends to the running of that risk.

First to apply for PL

I knew a certain area was getting vacant and stayed awake all night outside the Mining Commission and I was the first one to lodge my application at 9am for a Prospecting Licence (PL) over that area. I am told that at around 11am and 3pm that same day, two other individuals applied for a PL over the same area. Considering the law says whoever applies first gets priority, am I not entitled to the PL ahead of these two other individuals?
YU, Dodoma

No. You are not automatically entitled to the area being the first one to lodge on the same day, and all the 3 PL applications have to be determined on their merits.

The Mining Act Cap 123 RE 2019 in section 14 is very clear that where two or more persons, not acting together as partnership or joint venture, each make a specified application for the grant of a mineral right over the same area of land, or over areas of land, parts of which are the same area, the person whose application was first registered under this Act shall, if the circumstances are satisfied, be granted the mineral right for which he has applied. This section further states that where two or more specified applications are received on the same day by an authorized officer or officers during the hours of business appointed by the Commission for the receipt of applications, those applications shall be deemed to have been received simultaneously and priority between them shall be determined by the licensing authority in such manner as may be prescribed in the regulations.

Hence, unlike the previous Mining Act (now repealed), which allowed for one to compete on the time of lodging, and which resulted in huge queues outside the Ministry of Minerals, the current law does not have such a provision and all applications lodged on the same day, irrespective of the time of lodging, are treated equally.