n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Die brose wisselwerking tussen die (reg op) eierigting en die (falende) staat

Supplement 1
  • ISSN : 0041-4751


This article investigates the interaction between government's obligation to secure the peace and the individual right to resort to self-help to fend off actual or threatening violence against life or limb whenever government is ineffective in executing this obligation. The inquiry begins with a concise discussion of section 12(1)(c) of the Constitution - the individual right to be free from all forms of violence from either public or private sources - and other relevant constitutional provisions. The effect of this right, as amongst others attested to by recent case law, is to widen the scope of delictual liability. However, governmental failure to effectively secure this right gives rise to more far-reaching implications of a specifically constitutional nature. This becomes particularly plain against the backdrop of the exposition of the origin of the state by a social compact as explained by Thomas Hobbes (implicitly supported by amongst others a dictum of Ackermann J in the Makwanyane judgment.) By virtue of this everyone transfers to government his/her inalienable right to personal self-protection of his / her physical integrity, in the express understanding that government would henceforth execute this protection-function on behalf of each individual, and would do so consistently and effectively. The transfer is therefore qualified: once government fails to effectively execute its obligation the individual's right to take the law into his own hands automatically and instantly revives. The inability of government to effectively perform this obligation has the effect of the state simultaneously failing on two fronts: Firstly it is failing to protect the individual right to freedom from violence of its citizens; Secondly, since this failure automatically (re-)activates the dormant right to self-help, the state also radically undermines the very grounds for its own existence. It forfeits its position as the holder of the monopoly to legitimate (and lawful) force and violence by surrendering that position to individual victims and their supporters. In the normal course of events this precarious interaction between the obligation of government and the (active) right to resort to self-help is out of sight, but in conditions of endemic violent crime this potentially disruptive, yet inescapable relationship exerts itself prominently to the forefront.

Die artikel ondersoek die wisselwerking tussen die owerheid se verpligting tot die handhawing van die vrede en die reg om in die afwesigheid van doeltreffende owerheidsoptrede eierigting te gebruik om geweld af te weer. Die klem val op die spesifiek staatsregtelike implikasies van owerheidsversuim om die reg op vryheid teen geweld in stand te hou. Dit word uitgepluis met verwysing na die totstandkoming van die staat deur sosiale kompak soos deur Thomas Hobbes uiteengesit. Daarvolgens dra elkeen sy onvervreembare reg om persoonlik sy fisiese integriteit teen onregmatige aanvalle te verdedig aan die owerheid oor m.d.v dat die owerheid die beskermingsfunksie doeltreffend namens elkeen sal behartig. Die oordrag is dus gekwalifiseerd: sodra die owerheid in die nakom van sy plig misluk, herleef die reg op eierigting summier. Wanneer die owerheid faal, misluk dit gelyktydig op twee fronte: eerstens in die instandhouding van die individuele reg van vryheid teen geweld; tweedens, aangesien die dormante reg op eierigting hierdeur geaktiveer word, ondermyn die owerheid tegelykertyd die grondslag van die staat se bestaan en verbeur die staat sy monopolie op legitieme geweld. Hierdie potensieel ontwrigtende verhouding tree in omstandighede van endemiese geweldsmisdaad helder op die voorgrond.

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