S v Chitate

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S v Chitate is an important case in South African criminal law. As Loubser and Rabie point out in their review of the law on dolus eventualis,

although the element of recklessness and its variants have been emphasized frequently by our courts, it has very seldom, if ever, been of practical importance in the sense that dolus eventualis was explicitly found to be lacking on account of an absence of recklessness. It has been pointed out by certain commentators that Chitate appears to be the only such case.[1]

In this case the court found subjective foresight to be present and stated that, in addition, it was necessary to show that the accused's attitude of mind was one of callous disregard for the consequences, so that possible death was regarded by him as irrelevant when weighed against the attainment of his immediate objective. The victim died while undergoing an abortion. Because it was not shown that the incidence of fatal abortions in like circumstances was high, the court found that dolus eventualis was not proved. "However," write Loubser and Rabie, "it is arguable that a low incidence of fatalities in these circumstances could also justify the inference that the accused did not actually foresee death as a possible result, and lacked dolus eventualis for this reason."[2]


  • Loubser, MM, and MA Rabie. “Defining dolus eventualis: a voluntative element?” South African Journal of Criminal Justice, no. 1 (1988): 415-436.


  1. ^ Loubser and Rabie "Defining dolus eventualis" 421.
  2. ^ Loubser and Rabie "Defining dolus eventualis" 421.