SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT ON SELF DEFENCE RIGHTS
The recent Carte Blanche programme on home invasions and the rights of individuals to self defence has caused considerable social and other media stir. More so the opinion of a commentator thereon who ostensibly seemed to state that anyone acting to defend themselves in their homes may be jailed for criminal offences. It is thus trite to straighten the record:
- No one can use deadly force to protect property. If someone steals your TV and is running off you cannot shoot them. You can arrest or attempt to arrest them and call the police if you can but advice is not to place yourself in harms way for an item that can be replaced by insurance.
- You cannot use deadly force against a trespasser. If someone is on your property or enters your house and flees when you confront them, again you can arrest them or attempt to arrest them and call the police but again advice is not to place yourself in harms way when someone is fleeing your property/premises.
- If you are confronted by someone on your property or premises and that person advances on you, makes threatening moves or appears to do so, the moment a reasonable person would believe they are or are about to become under threat of harm you may use force to protect yourself, your family or any third party who may be the subject of the threatened harm. If you have no alternative but to use deadly force you may do so but must be able to justify its use. So if a small child was approaching you and you were capable of subduing the attack without deadly force then do so. When the attacker has any weapon then it is extremely unlikely the Court will find force or deadly force unjustified.
- In all instances if you injure or kill another in self defence, you shall be charged by the SAPS. That does not mean you will be found guilty. It means there will be an investigation. If your use of force is found to be reasonable you have nothing to fear. It is due process.
- Like Police officers who injure or kill perpetrators in the line of duty, ones actions must be able to withstand an investigation and show the facts are in your favour. This is what separates perpetrators and citizens and police in a constitutional democracy….the latter two are accountable for their actions or we will degenerate into a cycle of self retribution and destruction.
– Advocate Jean TH Berdou