An evaluation of the benefit of plea and sentence agreements to an unrepresented accused
Section 105A of the Criminal Procedure Act is unconstitutional with regard to its failure to extend benefits to an unrepresented accused. Unlike a represented accused, an unrepresented accused cannot benefit from section 105A. The only recourse available to him or her is to enter a plea of guilty under section 112 of the Criminal Procedure Act. This plea of guilty does not offer him the benefits under section 105A. This causes the section to operate unfairly against the unrepresented accused based on his/her failure to secure legal representation. This continued operation of section 105A infringes on the rights of an accused by not affording this protection to the accused. This is in terms of a right to equality before the law, freedom from discrimination and what constitutes a justifiable limitation under section 36 of the Constitution. South Africa has ratified or acceded to international and regional treaties which require, inter alia that the right to equality before the law is respected. This requires a model framework to be put in place to ensure that unrepresented accused can benefit from section 105A. An evaluation of the viability of adding the unrepresented accused to the protection under section 105A is done. This is informed by experiences from other jurisdictions, which aid the need for reform.