IN THE SUPREME COURT OF SWAZILAND
HELD AT MBABANE CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 18/11
In the matter between
MBUSO LIKHWA DLAMINI APPELLANT
CORAM : RAMODIBEDI CJ
DR. TWUM JA
HEARD : 04 NOVEMBER 2011
DELIVERED : 30 NOVEMBER 2011
Criminal law – Appellant found guilty of murder with extenuating circumstances and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment – Appeal against sentence only – Appeal dismissed and sentence confirmed.
 The appellant challenges a sentence of 15 years imprisonment imposed upon him by the High Court following a conviction of murder with extenuating circumstances. He contends that the sentence is harsh, severe and unbearable.
 In outline, the prosecution story as told by the eyewitnesses, namely, Samkelo Mathunjwa and Senzo Otti Sithole, shows that on 20 October 2007 they were coming from a soccer tournament at a place called Jericho. They were in the company of the deceased, Khibika Nkosiyavuma Nyandeni (“the deceased”). When they went passed the appellant who had been waiting at the Jericho High School gate he suddenly drew a knife and stabbed the deceased with it in the chest without any provocation. When they asked why he stabbed the deceased, he responded that the latter had burnt his house. Indeed, Samkelo Mathunjwa confirmed in his evidence that the appellant’s house was burnt. He found a container of petrol at the appellant’s homestead. He, however, did not know who burnt the house.
 Following the appellant’s stabbing of the deceased, I should mention that the latter died on the spot. The post mortem report revealed that the cause of death was due to haemorrhage as a result of a penetrating injury to the right lung.
 The appellant testified on his own behalf. He and the deceased were co-workers as security guards at “Mofo” on the way towards Mahlalini. They quarrelled with the deceased over a certain girl called Sihle Kunene who was in love with both of them at the same time. In or around July 2007, the deceased and his friends threatened the appellant with bushknives. It was shortly after that incident that his house was burnt, as he claimed, while he was sleeping inside it. He says that he actually heard people pour petrol on the house. He smelt the petrol too.
 The appellant made a vain attempt to rely on self-defence. He said that it was the deceased who first assaulted him with a fist on the back. He called his brother, Sifiso Fakudze, who said that the deceased attacked the appellant with a knife. This, despite the fact that credible evidence, including that of the appellant himself, showed that the deceased was not armed at all. The Court a quo made strong credibility findings against the appellant and his witness. There can be no valid criticism to be made for that approach in the circumstances. Accordingly, the appellant was correctly convicted of murder.
 The Court a quo found that extenuating circumstances were present by virtue of a combination of the appellant’s youth at 21 years of age and a belief in witchcraft. In dealing with the appellant’s belief in witchcraft the court expressed itself in these terms:-
“ However, the fact that the accused had that belief (in witchcraft), unreasonable though it may be, that it is the deceased who had burnt his house; that wrong belief had clouded his mind resulting in his hatred of the deceased.”
 With the foregoing background, it is opportune now to deal with sentence. It is trite that the question of the imposition of sentence is primarily left to the discretion of the trial court. It is, however, a judicial discretion which must be exercised upon proper considerations, having regard to relevant factors. An appellate court is generally slow to interfere with the trial court’s discretion in imposing sentence unless there is a material misdirection resulting in a miscarriage or failure of justice. Authorities for this proposition are legion in this country. It is hardly necessary to cite them in this judgment.
 But, as this Court has stated before, the Court has additional power conferred on it by s 5 (3) of the Court of Appeal Act 74/1954 to quash the sentence passed by the trial court if it thinks that a different sentence should have been passed. In such a situation, this Court has the power to pass “such other sentence warranted in law (whether more or less severe) in substitution therefor as it thinks ought to have been passed.” See, for example, Vusumuzi Lucky Sigudla v Rex, Criminal Appeal No. 01/2011.
 In sentencing the appellant the Court a quo properly took into account the triad consisting of the offence, the offender and the interests of society. As can be seen, this principle has been stressed in many judicial decisions such as S v Zinn 1969 (2) SA 537 (A). That case has in turn been frequently followed in this jurisdiction.
 In particular, the court a quo took into account the fact that the appellant was an unmarried young man of 21 years of age at the time of the commission of the offence. He had no previous convictions and had surrendered himself to the police. On the other hand, the court considered the fact the appellant had attacked the deceased, who was unarmed, without any provocation. I can find no fault with the court a quo’s exercise of a discretion in sentencing the appellant. No misdirection has been shown to exist. I should add that this was a serious offence for which imprisonment of 15 years was amply warranted in the circumstances. Accordingly, the appeal must fail.
 In the result the appeal is dismissed. The sentence of 15 years imprisonment imposed on the appellant by the court a quo is confirmed.
I agree _____________________
JUSTICE OF APPEAL
I agree _____________________
JUSTICE OF APPEAL
For Appellants : In person
For Respondent : Miss Q. Zwane