Q&A – 31 October 2022

Wife refuses evidence for husband

My husband and other three persons are charged with financial crimes for which they have been in remand prison for three years. I have been served with a summons to attend the Court as a defence witness to testify in favour of my husband. I don’t want to be a witness for my husband because he wants me to tell lies to the Court for him to be acquitted which I don’t want to do. At the same time, I don’t want to tell the truth because if I tell the truth I will definitely implicate my husband and cause him to be convicted and I know I will be blamed for implicating my husband. The summons is very clear that failure to attend the Court on the date indicated in the summons is an offence which attracts a fine. Does this mean if I refuse to attend the Court, I will be charged with contempt of Court and sentenced to pay a fine? Do I have the right to say I don’t want to be a witness for the husband?
AK, Dar 

In view of section 130 of the Evidence Act [Cap.6 R.E 2019], a wife is competent but not a compellable witness to testify for the prosecution against the husband meaning that she cannot be forced to testify against her husband save for sexual offences where she is both competent and compellable.

However, when a wife is called as a defence witness, she is a competent witness and can testify for the husband provided that before the wife is summoned by the Court as a defence witness, the husband should make an application to have the wife called as his witness. Where the husband applies for a summons to have his wife called as a witness but the wife upon being summoned refuses, the Court cannot compel the wife or convict the wife for contempt of Court for refusal to give evidence for the husband. All that the Court can do under section 130(5) of the Evidence Act, in its discretion, is to comment on the wife’s failure or refusal to attend the Court and give evidence for the husband. The Court can, for example, draw adverse inference against the husband for the wife’s failure or refusal to give evidence for the husband in that there is truth against the husband which the wife is trying to avoid.

Mainland Tanzania work permits in Zanzibar

Our company operates both in Mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar, though in Zanzibar we have smaller operations. We have recently employed a foreigner as a cyber security officer and want him to go to Zanzibar for a one week inspection. Our foreign employee has a work permit issued by the Labour Commissioner of Mainland Tanzania. Can he use the same work permit issued by the Labour Commissioner of Mainland Tanzania during his one week assignment in Zanzibar?  
WT, Arusha

The Non-Citizens (Employment Regulation) Act, 2015 under which a work permit for a foreigner working in Mainland Tanzania is issued by the Commissioner for Labour does not extend to Zanzibar. Section 2(1) of the Non-Citizens (Employment Regulation) Act is very clear that the Act is applicable to Mainland Tanzania only. Long- term and short- term work permits for foreigners who want to work in Zanzibar are issued by the Zanzibar Labour Commissioner under the Employment Act, No.11 of 2005 of Zanzibar. For your cyber security officer to be able to work in Zanzibar during his one week inspection, you may need to apply for a short- term work permit from the Labour Commissioner of Zanzibar. The short-term work permit issued under the Employment Act of Zanzibar lasts for a period not exceeding 6 months. He cannot use his work permit issued in Mainland to do any work in Zanzibar. We also recommend your lawyer guides you further on the practical realities on the ground.

Corporal punishment

Our brother has been convicted of three different trophy offences and sentenced to imprisonment for twenty years. In addition to the imprisonment penalty, he has been sentenced to corporal punishment of twelve strokes. We would like to know if our brother will suffer twelve strokes for each offence he was convicted of or the twelve strokes is the total number of strokes he will suffer for all the three counts. Is it the discretion of the Court to decide whether to impose a corporal punishment or not and the number of strokes to be inflicted?
PP, Dar

According to section 10 of the Corporal Punishment Act [Cap.17 R.E 2019] where a person is convicted of two or more offences in one trial and sentenced to corporal punishment, the Court should pass the corporal punishment in respect of all the offences and not for each offence. That means your brother will suffer corporal punishment of 12 strokes only as the total number of strokes. The 12 strokes shall be inflicted on him in two instalments, each consisting of 6 strokes. The first instalment shall be inflicted at the commencement of the term of imprisonment and the other immediately before he is finally released from the prison.

The Court can only impose corporal punishment for the offences specified in the Schedule to the Corporal Punishment Act. Wildlife offences are specified in the Schedule to the Corporal Punishment Act as one of the offences for which corporal punishment should be imposed by the Court where the accused is found guilty. Section 8 of the Corporal Punishment Act prescribes the maximum strokes the Court can impose to an offender. The maximum strokes the Court can impose to an adult offender is 24 and for a child offender the maximum strokes the Court can impose is 12. The minimum strokes is at the discretion of the Court to decide depending on the gravity of the offence with which the offender is convicted. The law sets only the maximum number of strokes and leaves the minimum to the Court to decide.