oa Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - Killing a supposed corpse: in search of principle

Volume 31, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



This article examines the various forms of principle which have been devised by the courts of various jurisdictions to explain why an accused person who has killed a supposed corpse should or should not be liable for murder or manslaughter (or culpable homicide not amounting to murder as it is known in India and some other jurisdictions). Besides English and South African decisions, I shall consider cases from Canada, New South Wales, New Zealand, India, Singapore, Southern Rhodesia and Sri-Lanka. It will be submitted that the Privy Council in Thabo Meli unfortunately overlooked a line of Indian case authorities which spells out and applies the best principle among the ones that have been proposed to date. As may be expected, the homicide laws of these jurisdictions differ in content and form. Thus, the fault elements for murder and manslaughter will vary from one jurisdiction to another, with some finding statutory expression while others are still grounded in the common law.

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