Common Law Offences
Common law offences still applicable within the South African
legal system are defined below.
Abduction consists in unlawfully taking a minor out of the
control of his or her custodian with the intention of enabling
someone to marry or have sexual intercourse with that minor.
Arson is the unlawful and intentional setting fire to an
immovable property belonging to another.
Assault consists of unlawfully and intentionally
- applying force to the person of another;
- inspiring a belief in another person that force is
immediately to be applied to him or her;
Assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. This is
another form of assault, however, committed with the intention
to cause serious bodily injury.
It consists of unlawfully and intentionally entering into
what purports to be a lawful marriage ceremony with one person
while lawfully married to another.
Contempt of court
Contempt of court consists in unlawfully and intentionally -
- violating the dignity, repute or authority of a judicial
body or a judicial officer in his/her judicial capacity; or
- publishing information or comment concerning a pending
judicial proceeding which has the tendency to influence the
outcome of the proceeding or to interfere with the
administration of justice in that proceeding.
Crimen injuria consist of unlawfully and intentionally
impairing the dignity or privacy of another person.
Culpable homicide is the unlawful negligent killing of
another human being.
Defamation consists of the unlawful and intentional
publication of matter that impairs another personís reputation.
Defeating or obstructing the course of justice
The crime of defeating or obstructing the course of justice
consists of unlawfully and intentionally engaging in conduct
which defeats or obstructs the course or administration of
Exposing an infant
This crime consists of unlawful and intentional exposure and
abandonment of an infant in such a place or in such circumstance
that its death from exposure is likely to result.
It consists of taking from another some patrimonial or
non-patrimonial advantage by intentionally and unlawfully
subjecting that person to pressure which induces him or her to
submit to the taking.
Forgery and uttering
Forgery consists of unlawfully and intentionally making a
false document to the actual or potential prejudice of another.
Uttering consists of unlawfully and intentionally passing off
a false document (forged) to the actual or potential prejudice
It is the unlawful and intentional making of a
misrepresentation which causes actual prejudice or which is
potentially prejudicial to another.
It consists of any conduct unlawfully committed by a person
owing allegiance to a state with the intention of -
- overthrowing the government of the Republic;
- coercing the government by violence into any action or
- violating, threatening or endangering the existence,
independence or security of the Republic;
- changing the constitutional structure of the Republic.
Housebreaking with intent to commit a crime
Housebreaking with intent to commit a crime consists of
unlawfully and intentionally breaking into and entering a
building or structure with the intention of committing some
crime in it.
This crime consists of unlawfully and intentionally depriving
a person of his or her freedom of movement and/or, if such
person is a child, the custodians of their control over the
Malicious injury to property
It consists of unlawfully and intentionally damaging the
property of another.
Murder is the unlawful and intentional killing of a human
Perjury consists in the unlawful and intentional making of a
false statement in the course of a judicial proceeding by a
person who has taken the oath or made an affirmation before, or
who has been admonished by somebody competent to administer or
accept the oath, affirmation or admonition.
Poisoning or administering poison or other noxious substance
This crime consists of unlawfully and intentionally
administering poison or other noxious (harmful) substance to
This crime consists of unlawfully, intentionally and publicly
engaging in conduct which tends to deprave the morals of others,
or which outrages the publicís sense of decency.
It consists of the unlawful and intentional commission,
together with a number of people, of an act/s which assume
serious dimensions and which are intended forcibly to disturb
public peace and tranquillity or to invade the rights of others.
Receiving stolen property
The crime of receiving consists of unlawfully receiving
possession of stolen property knowing it to have been stolen.
It consists of the theft of property by intentionally using
violence or threats of violence to induce submission to the
taking of it from another.
It consists of unlawfully and intentionally -
- taking part in a concourse of people violently or by
threats of violence challenging, defying or resisting the
authority of the State; or
- causing such a concourse.
It consists of the unlawful appropriation of moveable
corporeal property belonging to another with intent to deprive
the owner permanently of the property.
Violating a corpse
It consists of unlawfully and intentionally violating a
Violating a grave
It consists of unlawfully and intentionally damaging a human
back to top