n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Incapacity to determine criminal capacity : mad or bad? A selected case study

Special Edition 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



In South Africa, there appears to be an over emphasis of the social causes of crime and violence, and relatively little on the psychological aspects that motivate and breed anti-social behaviour. Given the history of the country under the former dispensation, it is understandable why this is so. Explanations largely focus on poverty, unemployment, a divisive society, social inequality and so forth. Criminology itself, has been narrow in it's foci, and until the last few decades, conservative in it's outlook and approach to crime. Fortunately this scenario has changed, and the discipline is evolving into wider areas of research and practice encompassing the criminal justice arenas, youth offending, victimology, restorative justice, human rights violations, gender inequities, under development, the impact of HIV on child headed households, and many other relevant areas of inquiry. Mental illness, within a violent society, has not to my mind yet captured the imagination of criminologists, who are mired in socio / political debates on crime and violence, since these factors undoubtedly have a role to play in crime and victim vulnerability. However, to my mind, there is a reciprocal interplay between social and psychological factors which may differ in degree, but ultimately determine the coping mechanisms (legitimate / illegitimate) that individuals employ. This article will explore vulnerability risk factors in the life of a selected case study, and demonstrate the subject's victimization prior to, and especially by justice and mental health officials / professionals, after the commission of his several crimes. Relevant theories and debates will be cited in support of the psychological / victimological arguments presented. Pertinent legislation with regard to the accountability / criminal capacity of the accused as it pertains to South Africa, will also receive critical comment.

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