Codifying all crimes in South Africa now a necessity, FMF tells Parliament

FMF Press Release (Law Justice 2)

24 May 2024

The Free Market Foundation (FMF) is encouraging the new Parliament that will be sworn in after the general election to adopt legislation that codifies all of South Africa’s criminal law. The draft Criminal Code Bill, which the FMF published today, enables Parliament to do so without delay.

South Africa is unique in the world for its astronomical rates of violent crime. Around 86 people are reportedly murdered per day and some five rapes are reported to occur every hour.

‘Such an extraordinary problem requires extraordinary solutions,’ says Martin van Staden, FMF Head of Policy and drafter of the Bill.

‘Codifying all the conceivable conduct for which someone might be liable for a criminal record, a fine, or imprisonment, is an important, definitional place, to start, because we cannot address crime if we are not even sure what a “crime” is in this country.’

The codification of South African criminal law is one of the FMF Section 12 Initiative’s proposals to focus attention on violence. Other aspects of the initiative include widespread decriminalisation of non-violent, non-harmful conduct, decentralising policing, prosecutorial, and correctional responsibilities, and developing the criminal justice system.

Last month, the FMF submitted a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) request to the Department of Correctional Services to make available records relating to South Africa’s overfull prisons.

Codification would be an important part of the Section 12 Initiative’s proposed strategy that places new emphasis on combating violence in South Africa.

The Criminal Code Bill would introduce a Criminal Code which is contained in the Schedules to the Bill. Parliament, each provincial legislature, and each municipal council, is assigned a Part of a Schedule, enabling them to adopt and modify the criminal offences that are applicable within their respective legislative jurisdictions.

‘This codification would not be like the codifications of Europe, however,’ explains Van Staden.

‘The Criminal Code would not replace South Africa’s proud common law. Instead, it is there so that the public has access to a single repository of all the criminal offences recognised by our law. The Criminal Code would also not replace the obligation on legislatures to adopt new legislation when they wish to criminalise something – the Code would not be the original source of criminal liability.’

The full draft Criminal Code Bill may be viewed here.

The Section 12 Initiative’s manifesto may be viewed here.

Press briefing

Members of the media are invited to attend an online press briefing where Martin van Staden, FMF Head of Policy, will unpack the draft Criminal Code Bill. 

The briefing will commence as follows: 

Date: 28 May 2024 

Time: 11h00  



Press enquiries

Anneke Burns
FMF Publicist
0714230079 |


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