Q&A – 15 June 2020

A year and day rule

Is it true that there is a rule in criminal law that if someone you attack dies after one year, you cannot be charged?
IP, Moshi

Our Penal Code states that if a person is not deemed to have killed another if the death of that person does not take place within a year and a day of the cause of death. Such period is reckoned inclusive of the day on which the last unlawful act contributing to the cause of death was done. Hence you cannot be charged for murder but can still be charged for other offences.

Big body, small seat

I took a flight out of Dar to an overseas destination and was made to sit next to a man who was extremely fat. He was easily over 160 kgs. I am not sure how he managed to actually sit in economy class. When he slept he snored and his hands would touch mine. Is there no weight restriction for economy class. I must confess that it was a really bad experience for me. Whilst I feel sorry for the fat passenger, I think the airline should have a fat man’s cabin somewhere. After the plane ride, whenever I see even a thin air hostess, she looks fat to me! What can I do?
YE, Dar

You have not disclosed us what airline this was but generally speaking there is no rule that requires a fat person to buy two tickets or upgrade to business class. However quite a few airlines now require such passengers, in the interest of safety and comfort of the passenger and others, to buy two tickets and if the plane is not full, the second ticket is reimbursed. In fact some airlines have stricter policies in that you would not be able to board if you have an economy class ticket but the size of the seat does not fit you.

In view of the above, and since you had a contract of carriage with the airline, we suggest you ask for a refund from the airline due to the discomfort you suffered. Likely the airline will give you a free ticket. Your lawyer can guide you further.

Tax case, member’s opinion differs

I had a case at the Tax Revenue Appeals Board where one of the members of the board ruled in my favour although the decision was against me as the Chairman had a different opinion. The member who ruled in my favour properly explained his reasoning for doing so, but the board’s decision is not on point. What can I do?
OI, Mwanza

You have the option of appealing to the Tax Revenue Appeals Tribunal within 30 days of the decision. Section 20 of the Tax Revenue Appeals Act states that for the purposes of determining any matter, the Chairman or the Vice-Chairman as the case may be, shall not be bound by the opinion of any member but, if he disagrees with the opinion of any member, he shall record the opinion of such member or members differing with him and reasons for his disagreement.

The Chairman or Vice-Chairman should have stated reasons in the judgment for her/his disagreement, and that can now also be a ground of appeal to the Tribunal.

Confusion on when law comes into force

I am totally confused as to when laws in Tanzania come into force. I would think that once they are passed by the National Assembly and assented by the President they come into force only to find out that there are more steps to follow. Please explain to me how this works? This is stalling progress is it not?
IF, Dodoma

Bills, which are the draft laws, are taken to the National Assembly in Dodoma. After passing the National Assembly, the President must assent to the bill for it to become law. However, upon assentment, it is not automatic that the bill will come into force. Coming into force is the commencement date of the act. The law can come into commencement one amongst the following three ways. The first is where a date of commencement is stated in the Act itself, which in recent times has become quite rare.

The second way is where the Act leaves the commencement in the hands of a certain authority appointed by the respective Act itself. For example the Act would state that this Act shall come into force on such date as the Minister may by notice in the gazette appoint. Hence under this method, the laws commencement date is at the mercy of the Minister or relevant appointment authority. A typical example is the Minister for Industries and Trade who for the past few years has surprisingly failed to bring into force the commencement of the change in law for a company to have a single shareholder, despite both the law having passed the National Assembly and having been assented to by the President.

Hence till date you cannot register a single shareholder company because of the non-action of the appointing authority. This is a typical example of progress being stalled. The third way for an Act to commence, again which is rare, is for the Act not to mention it and the commencement date would then automatically be as soon as it is published in the gazette.

Community service instead of prison

Is there a law in Tanzania that allows prisoners to perform community service instead of rotting in prison? What are the conditions?
UU, Moshi

There is an act called the Community Service Act which makes provisions for the introduction and regulation of community service on offenders in certain cases, and for connected and incidental matters.

Section 3 states that (1) where any person is convicted of an offence punishable by (a) imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, with or without the option of a fine; or (b) imprisonment for a term exceeding three years but for which the court determines a term of imprisonment for three years or less, with or without the option of a fine, to be appropriate, the court may, subject to this Act, make a community service order requiring the offender to perform community service.

Hence if the offender is sentenced to a term not exceeding 3 years, this Act can be invoked. You must remember that this is not an automatic right and the Community Service Orders Committee amongst others have discretionary power under this Act.