Lockdown “Admission of Guilt” Fines – The Criminal Record Risk

Lockdown “Admission of Guilt” Fines – The Criminal Record Risk

Breaking any of our lockdown laws can be an expensive business, risking heavy penalties. If you are accused of a contravention and offered the option of paying an “admission of guilt” fine to avoid a court appearance, beware! It may seem like the easy way out to pay up and put the whole thing behind you but it could land you with a criminal record. Read more: Traffic Fines and Admissions of Guilt – Will They Earn You a Criminal Record? You really don’t want to have a criminal record! Having a criminal record comes with serious and lifelong negative…
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It Pays to Report Crime! First Offender’s 20 Years in Prison Confirmed for R4.9m Fraud

It Pays to Report Crime! First Offender’s 20 Years in Prison Confirmed for R4.9m Fraud

It is tempting sometimes to think that the high levels of criminal activity plaguing us at every level of our society are here to stay and that it is pointless reporting crime when you fall victim to it. But if we don’t all report crime when it happens, and if we don’t keep following up to ensure proper investigation and prosecution, we hamstring our courts. And that is self-defeating, because give our courts a chance to crack down hard on criminals and that is exactly what they do. A recent Supreme Court of Appeal decision is only one of many…
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Traffic Fines and Admissions of Guilt – Will They Earn You a Criminal Record?

Traffic Fines and Admissions of Guilt – Will They Earn You a Criminal Record?

We live our lives beset by so many laws and regulations that even the most law-abiding of citizens will sooner or later be accused of some petty offence or other and then faced with the question “Do I fight this in court or do I just pay the fine and get on with it?” Tread carefully here – paying a fine and getting it over and done with is one thing - burdening yourself with a criminal record for life is an entirely different kettle of fish. We discuss the expungement option, when you are at risk of acquiring a…
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Victims of Corruption Take Heart – “Big Chief” Gets 15 Years Behind Bars

Victims of Corruption Take Heart – “Big Chief” Gets 15 Years Behind Bars

We are all of us tired of reading about the rampant corruption in our society, and even if you aren’t one of the many businesses or individuals directly affected, everyone is ultimately a victim. Let’s take heart then from two recent Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) decisions. Firstly, to set the scene - Minimum sentences for corruption Corruption in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act is an offence which, when more than R500,000 is involved, carries a minimum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment, even for first offenders, “unless there are substantial and compelling reasons justifying a…
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Road Rage – Sue, and Report It!

Road Rage – Sue, and Report It!

We live in stressful times, and as our roads become busier and the pressures of modern life mount, expect more and more road rage incidents. YouTube clips of drivers brawling, beside themselves with fury, vehicles forced off the road or tail-ended by apoplectic motorists, shouting, swearing, punch-throwing, windscreen smashing, racial insults – they all make for good viewing stats but what if you are one of the unfortunate victims? Firstly, you may well have a civil claim for damages – ask your lawyer about your prospects. Both your actual monetary losses and damages for any assault and humiliation could be…
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TV Cameras in the Courtroom – Media Circus or Public Right?

TV Cameras in the Courtroom – Media Circus or Public Right?

The Henri van Breda saga is a perfect example of how media broadcasts and livestreaming from a high-profile trial can stoke public interest and engagement. But what about the rights of witnesses to privacy and security?  And the accused person’s right to a fair trial?  How should our courts balance these rights against those of the public and the media?  An SCA judgment from the early days of the trial sets out clear guidelines… The Henri van Breda criminal trial is the latest high-profile case to have gripped the public’s imagination, and the media broadcasts and livestreaming from the Court…
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Child Maintenance in Arrears? The Contempt of Court Enforcement Option

Child Maintenance in Arrears? The Contempt of Court Enforcement Option

Our law, in protecting the interests of children in particular, provides you with an array of options when it comes to enforcing payment of maintenance orders.  One of them is to ask the court to jail the defaulter for “contempt of court”. The idea of course is that the threat of a stint behind bars is likely to extract payment out of even the wiliest of maintenance dodgers. How does it work and what must you prove?  A High Court case Deenanath v Deenanath and Others (11852/2015) [2016] ZAKZDHC 44 illustrates - “Pay up or go to prison” – what you…
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Employer v Employee: Can You Use Evidence Obtained under Threat of Prosecution?

Employer v Employee: Can You Use Evidence Obtained under Threat of Prosecution?

When we hear of employers and employees at loggerheads with each other in our court system, we normally think of labour disputes – strikes, disciplinary hearings, unfair dismissals and the like. But at times such disputes end up in our normal civil courts, dealing with issues which potentially apply to all civil claims.  An interesting SCA (Supreme Court of Appeal) case Hohne v Super Store Mining (Pty) Ltd (831/2016) [2016] ZASCA 186; [2017] 1 All SA 681 (SCA); 2017 (3) SA 45 (SCA) provides a good example. An accused diamond thief sued for R6m A business which processes mine dumps…
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Sexual Offences: No More Time Limit to Prosecute

Sexual Offences: No More Time Limit to Prosecute

Victims of sexual abuse are often so deeply traumatised and intimidated that they either never report the crimes, or take decades to go to the police. And that, until now, has been a major source of injustice in our legal system, because section 18 of our Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) provides that the right to prosecute crimes lapses after 20 years except for a specified list of serious offences - murder, treason, aggravated robbery, kidnapping, child stealing, rape/”compelled rape”, genocide/war crimes, people trafficking, and pornography involving children or mentally disabled people. The end result has been that many desperate and…
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Dagga – Arrest Risk Remains

Dagga – Arrest Risk Remains

The judgment in Prince v Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and Others; Rubin v National Director of Public Prosecutions and Others; Acton and Others v National Director of Public Prosecutions and Others (4153/2012) [2017] ZAWCHC 30 is on SAFLII. There’s still a lot of confusion as to whether dagga (cannabis) remains an illegal drug in South Africa, fuelled in part by conflicting media reports. Here’s where we stand – First, it is important to note that it remains in general illegal to cultivate, possess, supply or use cannabis “without the necessary authorisation from the Department of Health”. “Medicinal” cannabis…
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