Crimen Injuria falls under the common law branch of the South African legal system. This means that it is not regulated by legislation but instead evolves through the court system based on judgments and the outcomes of court cases.
It is defined as “unlawfully and intentionally impairing the dignity or privacy of another”, and can include cases stalking, making threats to someone, insulting someone for their ethnicity, and the use of racially insensitive language. These actions can cause deep psychological harm to someone and must, therefore, be subject to legal repercussions.
In order to start legal process for crimen injuria in South Africa, the complainant must lodge a complaint at a police station, and should the subsequent investigation reveal enough evidence, the case will move to a trial where the complainant, prosecutor and the defendant will set about proving or disproving the case of crimen injuria. Those found guilty of crimen injuria, may either face a fine or imprisonment depending on whether or not it is the first offence.
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