By Charity M. Ngabirano
Nights are meant for a peaceful rest in the comfort that one has managed to create for themselves. While your everyday Joe will sleep fwaa without worries of assailants, some people like singer Spice Diana need a solid security detail to be able to sleep peacefully, owing to their celebrity status.
Last week, Spice Diana’s sweet sleep was interrupted.
The alleged intruder, a one Henry Nsamba, 27, is said to have faced the wrath of Spice’s guards.
Unfortunately, he did not make it to see the next day.
This has put the hot songbird in trouble, to the extent of being summoned by Police over murder charges.
In a statement, the Kwata Wano singer said Nsamba was far from her home. She said although she saw him, she didn’t know him.
It is alleged that people who had beaten up Nsamba had fled the scene and none of those that were paraded by the Police for the offence was among them.
It is said that Spice got to know about his death later.
What defences are available for the culprits?
Many times, in cases like these, people claim, “Me I was just defending myself,” evoking self-defence as a defence to, for instance, a murder charge or charges of assault causing grievous bodily harm.
However, this raises the question of “degree of action and reaction”.
Even though a mean-looking stranger wanders into your compound, it does not mean that you should hack him with a panga. He might have just wanted directions.
Self-defence is a legal shield for people who actively try to protect themselves from actual harm or imminent harm against their bodies or life.
Section 15 of The Penal Code Act provides for the right of self defence. This includes the right for a person to use reasonable force to protect themselves or another where necessary.
A successful affirmative defence of self-defence excuses the accused from criminal liability wholly.
An accused person that puts up such a defence has no duty to prove it. The burden lies on the prosecution to disprove it.
However, the law governing self-defence does not excuse any violent act just because another person struck the first blow or made a violent threat.
Conditions for pleading self-defence
There are three conditions which have to be met before the defence of self-defence or defence of another is available;
(i) there must be imminent danger to the life or limb of the accused,
(ii) the force used in the face of this danger must be necessary for the safety of the accused, by this it is meant that the force must be both necessary in the circumstances and should be proportional to the threat which is being combated, and,
(iii) if the person assaulted has means of escape or retreat, they are bound to use them.
The degree of self-defence must be reasonable to the extent of an attack or imminent threat to one’s body or life. Where it is found that the level of self-defence is excessive, self-defence would not appropriately remove liability for gruesome acts.
For instance, if someone raises their hand to slap you and you instead cut off their raised arm with a panga, the defence of self-defence would not stand in this matter because this reaction may be interpreted as excessive and unreasonable in light of defending yourself. The force that you use must be parallel with the attack.
This means that if the attacker does not use dangerous force, in other words, your life is not in danger, you will generally not be entitled to use lethal force.
It is hard to apply these things in real life because events happen so fast and before you know it, you’ve acted out of context.
So far, there have not been reports on whether the dead man was armed or dangerous in any way, and as the Police stated, investigations are ongoing.
The writer is an advocate
Note: The article is intended to provide information about general statements of law and is not intended to create an advocate-client relationship. Contact a lawyer on specific legal problems