A question of high treason

16 April 2019 00:00

The crippling of our country’s power grid after recent turmoil at Eskom coupled with businessmen allegedly directing the appointment of government ministers has been termed “treason” by some.

According to the Index of South African Criminal Cases 1910–2018 the leading authority on treason is S v BANDA AND OTHERS [1990] 4 All SA 152 (BG).

The relevant findings by Judge Friedman are:

1. Treason can be committed in times of peace as well as war.

2. The key element is 'hostile intent', which includes unlawfully impairing or endangering the existence, independence or security of the state.

3. Motive of serving an enemy country or seditious group is not required – greed can be the motive.

4. Direct intention to undermine or sabotage the state is not required.

Hostile intent is proven if the perpetrator knew (by dolus directus, indirectus or eventualis) that by striving to fulfil his aim he would impair or endanger the existence, independence or security of the government.

Shamila Batohi and the new Investigating Directorate could use S v BANDA when they prepare the corruption and state capture prosecutions. The sentencing penalties for high treason are appropriately severe.

Download the full Treason Research Pack.