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Developing the South African law of delict: the creation of a statutory compensation fund for crime victims

Wessels, Albertus Bernardus (2018-03)

Thesis (LLD)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT : The dissertation evaluates the compensatory relief South African law currently provides to victims of crime. To obtain compensation for the harm arising from crime, a victim may institute a common-law delictual claim against the perpetrator of the crime. Because the perpetrator is unlikely to be in a financial position to compensate the victim’s harm, crime victims frequently frame actions against the state, not only on the basis of vicarious liability for positive wrongdoing by state employees, but increasingly on the basis of failure by the state or its employees to prevent crime. This dissertation describes the expanding delictual liability of the state for harm caused by crime and concludes that this development of the law of delict is both theoretically and practically undesirable. The dissertation further argues that the existing statutory mechanisms to claim compensation for harm arising from crime is unsatisfactory and provides little assistance to crime victims. Within this framework the dissertation considers whether there is an alternative method to secure compensation for the hundreds of thousands of South Africans who fall victim to crime each year. The most common solution adopted in foreign jurisdictions is the establishment of a statutory compensation fund for crime victims. The dissertation seeks to establish whether the legislative reform of the South African law of delict through the creation of such a fund is justified and appropriate. To do so, the dissertation analyses the historical background and policy bases of other significant instances of legislative reform of the South African law of delict. In the process, a general theoretical framework is developed that may provide an outline for statutory reform of the law of delict to provide compensation for specific categories of victims. The dissertation thereafter examines whether the establishment of a statutory crime victim compensation fund could fit within this proposed theoretical framework. It is concluded that the proposed fund is justifiable and, when compared to the solutions offered by the current developments within the common-law of delict and existing legislation, it seems, in principle, to be a more desirable solution to improve the legal position regarding compensation of crime victims. To be successful, the proposed statutory compensation scheme must be theoretically sound and practically workable. The dissertation therefore concludes by focusing on several practical questions and considerations which the South African legislature should take into account, if it were to enact such a scheme.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Die verhandeling evalueer die wyse waarop die Suid-Afrikaanse regstelsel tans vergoeding bied aan die slagoffers van misdaad. Om die skade voortspruitend uit misdaad te vergoed, kan ʼn slagoffer ʼn gemeenregtelike deliktuele eis teen die oortreder instel. Aangesien dit onwaarskynlik is dat die oortreder in 'n finansiële posisie sal wees om die slagoffer se skade te vergoed, stel misdaadslagoffers gereeld eise in teen die staat, nie bloot op die basis van middellike aanspreeklikheid vir positiewe delikte van staatswerknemers nie, maar toenemend op grond van die versuim van die staat of sy werknemers om misdaad te voorkom. Die proefskrif beskryf die uitbreiding van die deliktuele aanspreeklikheid van die staat vir skade veroorsaak deur misdaad en kom tot die gevolgtrekking dat hierdie ontwikkeling van die deliktereg sowel teoreties as prakties onwenslik is. Die verhandeling argumenteer verder dat die bestaande statutêre meganismes om vergoeding te eis vir skade wat uit misdaad ontstaan onbevredigend is en min bystand verleen aan misdaadslagoffers. Binne hierdie raamwerk word dit oorweeg of daar ʼn alternatiewe metode is om vergoeding te verseker vir die honderde duisende Suid-Afrikaners wat elke jaar slagoffers van misdaad is. Die mees algemene oplossing wat in buitelandse jurisdiksies toegepas word, is die vestiging van ʼn statutêre vergoedingsfonds vir misdaadslagoffers. Die verhandeling beoog om vas te stel of die wetgewende ontwikkeling van die Suid-Afrikaanse deliktereg deur die skepping van ʼn vergoedingsfonds vir misdaadslagoffers geregverdig en gepas is. Om dit te doen, ontleed die proefskrif die historiese agtergrond en beleidsbasis van ander belangrike voorbeelde van wetgewende hervorming van die Suid-Afrikaanse deliktereg. In die proses word ʼn algemene teoretiese raamwerk ontwikkel wat ʼn basis kan bied vir statutêre hervorming van die deliktereg om voorsiening te maak vir die vergoeding van spesifieke kategorieë slagoffers. Die verhandeling ondersoek dan of die vestiging van ʼn statutêre misdaadslagoffervergoedingsfonds binne hierdie voorgestelde teoretiese raamwerk kan pas. Daar word tot die gevolgtrekking gekom dat die voorgestelde fonds geregverdig kan word en dit wil voorkom asof die vestiging van sodanige fonds, in vergelyking met die oplossings wat gebied word deur die huidige ontwikkeling in die deliktereg en bestaande wetgewing, in beginsel, ʼn meer wenslike oplossing is om die regsposisie met betrekking tot skadevergoeding van misdaadslagoffers te verbeter. Ten einde suksesvol te wees, moet die voorgestelde statutêre vergoedingskema teoreties gegrond en prakties werkbaar wees. Die proefskrif sluit dus af deur te fokus op verskeie praktiese vrae en oorwegings wat die Suid-Afrikaanse wetgewer in ag behoort te neem as die voorgestelde vergoedingskema vir misdaadslagoffers inderdaad geskep sou word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/103799
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