On-line version ISSN 2411-7870
HOCTOR, Shannon. The nature of the crime of arson in South African law. Fundamina (Pretoria) [online]. 2013, vol.19, n.2, pp. 321-332. ISSN 2411-7870.
The crime of arson is committed in a number of different ways in the South African context. However, what is common to all incidences of the crime is that it causes danger: either to property or persons or both. Although the crime is traditionally classified as a crime against property, this article points out that it has been recognised, in the common-law sources upon which the crime is based, that the crime also protects the community. In this regard the use of the crime to punish the fire-setter who sets his or her own property alight, foreseeing that the fire may endanger the interests of others, is highlighted. This aspect of the crime derives from common-law sources, and has been recognised in the courts, but as yet has been sporadically acknowledged and applied by academic writers and in practice. It is submitted that such intentional conduct ought to be reflected in the definition of arson.