oa Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - The history and rationale of criminal conspiracy

Volume 17, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



Conspiracy has always been a controversial crime in English and American law, especially as its wide scope has led to certain abuses. In England the Criminal Law Act of 1977 has restricted the crime to more acceptable proportions, but in many jurisdictions of the USA it still covers agreements to commit acts which are not all strictly criminal. Although in South Africa the crime of conspiracy is limited to agreements to commit a crime, it also figures prominently in definitions of certain more recently enacted statutory offences against the safety of the state, such as terrorism and sabotage and in this guise plays an increasingly important role in South African criminal law. The purpose of this article is to examine its history and rationale briefly, in the belief that a better understanding of these aspects of the crime will lead to better understanding of the rules governing its everyday application.

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