S v Ntuli

JurisdictionSouth Africa
JudgeHolmes JA, Hofmeyr JA and Van Zijl AJA
Judgment Date14 November 1974
Citation1975 (1) SA 429 (A)
Hearing Date04 November 1974
CourtAppellate Division

Holmes, J.A.:

The accused was charged with the crime of murder before FANNIN, J., sitting with assessors in the Zululand and North Coast Circuit Local Division at Eshowe. He was convicted of culpable homicide on the ground that he "exceeded the bounds of reasonable self-defence".

Holmes JA

Before passing sentence the learned trial Judge expressed the view, after hearing submissions from counsel on both sides, that there was no evidence that the accused assaulted the deceased, i. e. to say, there was no proof of the dolus required for an assault. Accordingly, he sentenced the accused to imprisonment for three years.

A Thereafter, on application by the State, and having heard opposition by counsel for the defence, the learned Judge reserved the following question of law:

"There having been a verdict of culpable homicide upon a finding that the accused had exceeded the bounds of B reasonable self-defence, can it properly be said that such culpable homicide involved an assault as envisaged by Group 1 of Part 1 of the Third Schedule to Act 56 of 1955, as amended, and that the accused therefore qualified for the sentence of imprisonment for the prevention of crime in terms of sec. 334 quat (2) (b) of the said Act."

C If the question is answered affirmatively the accused must be sentenced to imprisonment for the prevention of crime, because of his record of previous convictions and the provisions of sec. 334 quat 2 (b) of Act 56 of 1955, as amended, read with Group 1 of Part 1 of the Third Schedule thereto. It is common cause that this would be a more onerous sentence than the one imposed.

D With that prelude I turn to the facts, culled from the judgment:

(i)

The accused is a strong and healthy Zulu in early manhood.

(ii)

The deceased was his mother-in-law, an elderly woman.

(iii)

The accused had recently registered his marriage to the daughter of the deceased, and had paid her "lobola".

(iv)

On the evening of 18 July 1973 the accused called to see his wife, who was living at the deceased's kraal in the district of Nkandla. The E deceased told him that his wife had gone to Johannesburg. This was meant and understood to mean that she had decamped.

(v)

In the course of this conversation the deceased took a F knife and injured the accused on his shin. At a later stage she took hold of an assegai and tried or threatened to stab him with it. They struggled for its possession. The blade came off and was retained by the deceased. The accused got hold of the shaft, and he struck her with it. It is plain that they were not G getting on well.

(vi)

Thereafter the two of them repaired to a half-built hut where the accused's possessions had been stored by the deceased. There she behaved extremely provocatively and took up a piece of firewood and H threw it at him. By way of riposte, he threw it back at her, and she fell down. He tried to run off, but he was caught up in the thorn fence around the kraal. In this predicament the deceased came upon him again and, according to the accused, he belaboured her with the shaft of the assegai, and then left.

(vii)

The post-mortem examination revealed a number of apparently minor injuries on the deceased's body and head. There were,

Holmes JA

however, two major injuries: her skull was cracked at the back, and her upper jaw was broken.

(viii)

Pieces of wood and also pieces of a broken stick were found at the scene of the affray.

(ix)

The trial Court was not satisfied that it had heard the whole truth, and it eschewed a verdict of murder on the ground that it could not A exclude the reasonably possible inference that in the kraal there was a running fight between the deceased and the accused, in B which the former, who had acted very aggressively already, made repeated attacks on the accused which he beat off.

(x)

"On that view of the matter", said the trial Court, "it is clear that the accused inflicted two extremely heavy blows to the head of the deceased. It is true that he had been attacked by the deceased with two lethal weapons earlier, but had come to no serious harm, and had indeed succeeded quite easily in C avoiding any serious danger to himself from those attacks. The deceased was a very old woman, and could constitute no serious danger to the accused, who is a strong, healthy man, in early manhood, and it is perfectly clear in our opinion, on the facts which we have before us, that there was no need for the accused to have used any great force to avoid any attack which may have been made upon him by the deceased. He could easily have fled, and it would clearly be easy for a man of his strength and age to have done that when attacked by this old woman, even though she may have D been a strong healthy woman for her age. Thus it is clear that the accused exceeded the bounds of reasonable self-defence, and that he is guilty, as he pleaded, of culpable homicide, that is to say of having unlawfully killed the deceased."

In this Court, as at the trial, Mr. Dalling appeared for the accused at the request of the Court; and we are indebted to him E for his assistance. He took the point...

To continue reading

Request your trial
87 practice notes
  • S v Mncube en 'n Ander
    • South Africa
    • Invalid date
    ...S v Pretorius 1975 (2) SA 85 (SWA) op 88, 89; S v Molefe 1940 AD 202, 204, 205; R v Koning 1953 (3) SA 220 (T) op 232 - 3; S v Ntuli 1975 (1) SA 429 (A) op 436; S v Burger 1975 (4) SA 877 (A) op 878; R v Kuzwayo 1960 (1) SA 340 (A); S v Grobler 1966 (1) SA 507 (A) H op 519; R v Malako 1959 ......
  • S v Pakane and Others
    • South Africa
    • Invalid date
    ...2 All SA185): comparedS v Mkohle 1990 (1) SACR 95 (A): referred toS v Morgan and Others 1993 (2) SACR 134 (A): referred toS v Ntuli 1975 (1) SA 429 (A): referred toS v Phallo and Others 1999 (2) SACR 558 (SCA): dictum in para [42]appliedS v Shackell 2001 (2) SACR 185 (SCA) (2001 (4) SA 1; [......
  • 2010 index
    • South Africa
    • Juta South African Criminal Law Journal No. , August 2019
    • 16 August 2019
    ...415, 417S v Ntoae and Others 2000 (1) SACR 17 (W) ............................................... 368S v Ntuli 1975 (1) SA 429 (A) ............................................................... 126-127S v Ntuli 1996 (1) SA 1207 (CC) ..................................................... 6-7......
  • S v Malik
    • South Africa
    • Invalid date
    ...571 (T); Goodrich v Goodrich 1946 AD 390 at 396; R v Mlambo 1957 (4) SA 727 (A) at 738; S v Steynberg 1983 (3) SA 140 (A); S v Ntuli E 1975 (1) SA 429 (A); S v Ngomane 1979 (3) SA 859 (A); S v Ntanzi 1981 (4) SA 477 (N); S v Ngubane 1985 (3) SA 677 (A); R v Mzwakala 1957 (4) SA 273 (A); S v......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
83 cases
  • S v Mncube en 'n Ander
    • South Africa
    • Invalid date
    ...S v Pretorius 1975 (2) SA 85 (SWA) op 88, 89; S v Molefe 1940 AD 202, 204, 205; R v Koning 1953 (3) SA 220 (T) op 232 - 3; S v Ntuli 1975 (1) SA 429 (A) op 436; S v Burger 1975 (4) SA 877 (A) op 878; R v Kuzwayo 1960 (1) SA 340 (A); S v Grobler 1966 (1) SA 507 (A) H op 519; R v Malako 1959 ......
  • S v Pakane and Others
    • South Africa
    • Invalid date
    ...2 All SA185): comparedS v Mkohle 1990 (1) SACR 95 (A): referred toS v Morgan and Others 1993 (2) SACR 134 (A): referred toS v Ntuli 1975 (1) SA 429 (A): referred toS v Phallo and Others 1999 (2) SACR 558 (SCA): dictum in para [42]appliedS v Shackell 2001 (2) SACR 185 (SCA) (2001 (4) SA 1; [......
  • S v Malik
    • South Africa
    • Invalid date
    ...571 (T); Goodrich v Goodrich 1946 AD 390 at 396; R v Mlambo 1957 (4) SA 727 (A) at 738; S v Steynberg 1983 (3) SA 140 (A); S v Ntuli E 1975 (1) SA 429 (A); S v Ngomane 1979 (3) SA 859 (A); S v Ntanzi 1981 (4) SA 477 (N); S v Ngubane 1985 (3) SA 677 (A); R v Mzwakala 1957 (4) SA 273 (A); S v......
  • S v Engelbrecht
    • South Africa
    • Invalid date
    ...1972 (3) SA 1 (A): considered S v Motleleni 1976 (1) SA 403 (A): considered S v Ngomane 1979 (3) SA 859 (A): considered E S v Ntuli 1975 (1) SA 429 (A): S v Williams 1995 (2) SACR 251 (CC) (1995 (3) SA 632; 1995 (7) BCLR 861): referred to S v Williams 1998 (2) SACR 191 (SCA): referred to So......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
4 books & journal articles
  • 2010 index
    • South Africa
    • Juta South African Criminal Law Journal No. , August 2019
    • 16 August 2019
    ...415, 417S v Ntoae and Others 2000 (1) SACR 17 (W) ............................................... 368S v Ntuli 1975 (1) SA 429 (A) ............................................................... 126-127S v Ntuli 1996 (1) SA 1207 (CC) ..................................................... 6-7......
  • 2007 index
    • South Africa
    • Juta South African Criminal Law Journal No. , August 2019
    • 16 August 2019
    ...254S v Nqwenani 1991 (1) SACR 553 (Ck) ................................................ 379S v Ntuli 1975 (1) SA 429 (A) ............................................................... 2S v Ntuli 1996 (1) SACR 94 (CC) .......................................................... 384-385S v Obe......
  • Medical negligence as a causative factor in South African criminal law: Novus actus interveniens or mere misadventure?
    • South Africa
    • Juta South African Criminal Law Journal No. , August 2019
    • 16 August 2019
    ...defence theory whereby a conviction of murder could automatically be reduced to a conviction of culpable homicide. See also S v Ntuli 1975 (1) SA 429 (A).37 R v Meiring 1927 AD 41; R v Van Schoor supra (n35) at 350. See also FFW Van Oosten ‘South African Medical Law’ (1996) International En......
  • Geregverdigde Doodslag by Inhegtenisneming: Die Bepalings van die Nuwe Artikel 49 van die Strafproseswet
    • South Africa
    • Juta Stellenbosch Law Review No. , May 2019
    • 27 May 2019
    ...and Fugitive Justice in the Balance: The Old and the New Face of section 49of the Criminal Procedure Act’’ 2000 SAS 200 208.16211.171975 1 SA 429 (A).GEREGVERDIGDE DOODSLAG 547© Juta and Company (Pty) te bevind dat X met dolus (opset in die tegniese, juridiese sin van diewoord) opgetree het......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT