Q&A – 19 September 2022

Rape under influence of alcohol

I raped a woman after drinking excessive alcohol. In fact, due to drunkenness I thought the victim was my wife. I am now charged with the offence of rape and the trial has begun though it is yet to be concluded. The victim and other two witnesses have given their evidence and only the investigator and the clinical officer who examined the victim have not testified. Can I put up a defence that I was drunk at the time I raped the victim, hence could not know that the victim is not my wife? I have sincerely apologised to the victim.
GF, Dar es Salaam

Generally voluntary intoxication is not a defence to a criminal charge. The offender can rely on voluntary intoxication as provided under section 14 of the Penal Code [Cap.16 R.E 2019] only where there is proof that by reason of intoxication the offender became temporarily insane, as a result, he could not understand what he was doing and could not form the intention to commit the offence he is charged with. The offence of rape does not require proof of intention to rape. There are two main elements of the offence of rape which are lack of consent and penetration of the male sexual organ into the female sexual organ. In a murder case, voluntary intoxication, if proved, can reduces the offence of murder to manslaughter because the offence of murder requires proof of intention to kill, so if the offender was drunk to the extent of not being able to form a specific intention to kill, the offence of murder is reduced to manslaughter. Because the offence of rape does not require proof of intention to rape, even if you prove intoxication, such proof will not change the nature of the offence. You will still be held liable for raping the victim. And finally your sincere apologies will make no difference in law.

Employer refuses to support funeral costs of employee’s parent

I was living with my elderly mother as one of my dependents. Unfortunately she passed away recently. After the death of my mother I informed my employer and approached our Head of Human Resources to request that my employer should help me bear the costs of funeral and burial but she refused. She said that there is no law which imposes on the employer the obligation to cover the employee or the employee’s dependent’s funeral and burial costs. I would like to get your opinion if the employer is not really responsible under the law to provide such funeral costs.
YT, Mwanza

The employer’s duty to bear the costs of burial or funeral of the employee or the employee’s dependant is provided for under paragraph 6 of the Third Schedule to the Employment and Labour Relations Act [Cap.366 R.E 2019]. The Act saved such employer’s duty which was provided under section 111 of the repealed Employment Act.  Paragraph 6 of the Third Schedule retained the employer’s duty to bear the funeral and burial cost of the employee and the employee’s dependents until such time when such duty will be expressly removed by an Act of Parliament.

Our understanding so far is that there is no law which has expressly removed the employer’s duty to bear the costs of funeral and burial of the employee’s dependents who live with the employee at the time of death. Employer’s abdication of his duty to bear the employee’s dependant’s burial and funeral cost is actually an offence. Hence the rejection by your Head of Human Resources that the employer is not responsible for bearing the costs of funeral and burial of your mother amounted to an offence under the law.

Arrested for driving unreasonably slowly

On a Saturday I was arrested by a traffic police who told me to pay a fine of TZS 30,000 for causing a traffic jam by driving unreasonably slowly on the highway. This offence is very strange to me and I doubt if it really exists though I decided to pay the fine in order to save the time I would have wasted by going to Court to contest the offence. Does this offence really exist in law or a police self-created the offence? What speed is regarded as “unreasonable speed that causes a traffic jam”?
BT, Moshi

It is an offence under section 56 of the Road Traffic Act [Cap 168 R.E 2002] to drive unreasonably slowly at a speed that is likely to cause traffic jam or annoyance to other road users. The law does not set the minimum speed which is regarded as an unreasonable speed. The reasonability of the minimum speed depends on the situation of the traffic. The test is whether it is safe for a driver to speed up but she/he drives so slowly and in such a way that his slow speed is likely to impede other road users or annoy them.