When is shooting an intruder self-defence?
Most South-Africans live under fear of criminals invading their homes or businesses.
When instincts take over, people do not always have control over their actions.
In dangerous self-defence situations it might be unclear when one has the right to shoot.
“The law states there are a number of different ways to defend yourself before you can actually shoot an intruder in self-defence,” said The Reeds Sector 2 policing forum officer Ockert Kruger.
“The technology we have these days can help you. You should always go to a safe place in your house like your bedroom. Lock yourself in and contact the police, your alarm company or your local CPF.”
“You can only use deadly force when your life or someone in your direct vicinity is beyond any doubt in direct life-threating danger. People should know that when you use a gun there must have been no other alternative,” Kruger said.
In order to determine the lawfulness of a defensive action, the courts apply the reasonable man test. They would try to determine whether a reasonable man in the same position would have done the same thing.
It is important to remember the following:
– The attack must be unlawful
– The attack must be imminent or already underway
– The attack must not be complete – it’s not self-defence if you shoot someone after the attack is over
– The defensive action must be directed only against the attacker
– The defensive action must proportionate to the circumstances – property value and the instrument used in the attack are key considerations
These five factors might seem vague, but if you follow the above guidelines and keep your actions within the principles of self-defence, you should be safe from legal repercussions.
To demonstrate the five factors, take this scenario as an example: If you wake up in the middle of the night to find a stranger in your house and you shoot him immediately and it turns out he did not have a weapon, you are going to find yourself in some trouble with the law.
If you shoot him and he did have a firearm, on the other hand, but it turns out he wasn’t aware of you, you’ll still find yourself in trouble.
You may not shoot the unsuspecting thief on the premise that if you confront him he would harm you – the pre-emptive strike principle is not applicable in private defence cases.
If the intruder has a knife or any other weapon that can cause harm you will only be justified in shooting him if he attempts to stab someone. If he is just standing there holding a knife, shooting him could be judged to be disproportionate use of force.
Knowing that an armed intruder is inside your home is not enough threat to justify the use of lethal force against him, but each case would be judged on its own merits.
An important rule of thumb is to keep in mind that your property is not worth more than an intruder’s life. Only shoot when your own or someone else’s life or physical safety is threatened.
If you are ever a victim of burglary or hijacking it is important to remember the following:
– Do as you are told. Particularly if the attacker is armed.
– Do not reach for your purse or valuables, keep your hands within sight and try to avoid eye contact.
– In the heat of the moment it can be easy to miss the little things that will enable the police to find your attacker.
4. As far as safely possible try to remember the following details: how many attackers there are. We were they armed and with what, what were they wearing, in what language were they speaking, in which direction did they flee and did they have any defining characteristics like scars or tattoos?
Kruger advises residents to keep their local CPF’s number close for use in an emergency.
“The SAPS are sometimes so busy they might only react to your problem much later,” he said.
source of the above article: Rekord Centurion