n Obiter - Comparing self-defence and necessity in English and South African law - R v Riddell [2018] 1 All ER 62; [2017] EWCA Crim 413 - cases

Volume 40 Number 3
  • ISSN : 1682-5853


Although a motor vehicle has been held not to be a “dangerous weapon” in terms of the dangerous weapon legislation (S v Mnguni 1977 (3) SA 63 (N); S v Nyathi 1978 (2) SA 20 (B); cf S v Andrews 1977 (2) SA 719 (E)), a motor vehicle can certainly be used as a “weapon of death” (S v Desai 1983 (4) SA 415 (N) 418G–H; see generally Hoctor “Accidentally on Purpose? The Purpose of Imposing Duties Following Road Traffic Collisions” 2003 Obiter 174). Can a motor vehicle then also be used as a means of defending one’s interests that are under attack? This is the issue that arose in the English case of R v Riddell [2018] 1 All ER 62; [2017] EWCA Crim 413, which is examined below in the broader context of a comparison between English and South African law on the defences of self-defence and duress, and private defence and necessity, respectively. (As is customarily the case, in this contribution the person accused of a crime is referred to as “the accused” where South African law is under discussion, and as “the defendant” where English law is discussed.)

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