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n Tydskrif vir die Suid-Afrikaanse Reg - Die geweldsbegrip by die misdaad aanranding
The concept of violence in the crime of assault
A lay person would normally regard the violence required for assault as merely the application of force by the wrongdoer to the body of the victim. In reality "violence" may encompass many other forms of conduct. This article investigates the different forms that violence may assume in this crime. The research is not limited to the South African common law, but includes English and German law. Special attention is devoted to the form of violence consisting in the arousal of an apprehension in the victim that violence is immediately to be inflicted, as well as to the concepts of vis absoluta and vis relativa. It is argued that words may in certain circumstances be sufficient to constitute violence, that violence may be committed by means of an omission, that it may be committed through the instrumentality of a third party, that assault should not be viewed as a formally defined crime, but as a materially defined crime (in other words a crime consisting in the causing of a certain result), that the gravamen of the crime is not any particular type of act, but the causing of a particular result flowing from any conduct, and that it would be better to replace the present definition of the crime usually cited in South African legal literature with a new definition which defines the crime not in terms of some act of a specific nature, but in terms of any conduct that causes an infringement of a person's physical integrity.
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