Dangerous Criminals

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A reader wants to know why, on rare occasions, some accused persons are declared as “dangerous criminals”.

Our reader’s question will best be answered by referring to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein (“the SCA”) judgment in Petersen v The State (Case no 295/2021) [2023] ZASCA 26 dated 16 March 2023 (SCA) (hereinafter referred to as “the accused”), who was declared a “dangerous criminal” by the High Court in Cape Town.

Case law (Afrikaans: “regspraak”) (previous similar cases) in respect of this issue is rare (scarce/infrequent)! This is confirmed by the SCA in paragraph [7] of its judgment where the following is stated, namely –

“[7] Indeterminate sentences, as provided by sections 286A and 286B of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 (‘the CPA’), have seldom been imposed since the sections were promulgated on 1 November 1993. They were enacted to protect the public against extremely dangerous criminals. The Booysen Commission was established to inquire into the ‘Continued inclusion of psychopathy as a certifiable mental illness and the handling of psychopathy as a certifiable and other violent offenders’. It made recommendations regarding the handling and release of dangerous and violent offenders, including sex offenders. As a result of the Commission’s recommendations, sections 286A and 286B of the CPA were enacted*”.


[This is only an extract of an article that is published in Servamus: December 2023. This article is available for purchase.]

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