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Law around Public Violence

- Featured article by LAWYERS-ONLINE.CO.ZA - April 2019

In South Africa, the crime of public violence falls under the umbrella of common law, and thus it does not have roots in the legislature, but instead, it has seen development through a series of court decisions which serve as case law. According to SAPS, public violence may be defined as “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”

In South Africa, we see this often when protests turn violent, or when groups of angry individuals commit acts that undermine the tranquillity of daily life. While section 17 of the Constitution allows for public assembly, it does not make provision for what happens when a public assembly violates the rights of individuals as set out in The Bill of Rights. This is where case law must be consulted and the courts have the serious task of continuously developing the crime of public violence.

If a person is arrested for the crime of public violence, they must secure legal representation and appear before the court, where it will be determined whether they are guilty or innocent. If you or a family member have been charged with public violence, reach out to us and we will put you in contact with a criminal lawyer who will explain your position and represent you in court.

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