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  • Assault consists of any unlawful and intentional action
    • a) resulting in somebody else’s bodily integrity being directly or indirectly negatively affected; or
    • b) making somebody else believe that such an attack on his or her bodily integrity is imminent.

    This means that assault can be committed in two ways, namely by exercising violence, or by threatening imminent personal violence. Violence can be exercised directly or indirectly.

    The direct exercise of violence is how the common man regards violence. It is when X uses a part of his or her body to apply physical strength on a part of Y’s body and thereby makes contact with or touches a part of Y’s body.

    Violence is exercised indirectly when the person uses an instrument, e.g. by hitting somebody using a stick, throwing stones, setting a vicious dog on someone, causing a train to derail in order to injure the passengers, or by making use of a third party.

    Assault must be unlawful and intentional.

    i) Assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm

    If assault is of such a nature that it causes or can cause serious injuries, the crime of “assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm” is committed.

    Assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm is an independent crime and not simply a more severe form of assault. The requirements for assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm are exactly the same as those for common assault, but in addition X must also have the particular intent of causing severe injuries. It is not necessary for severe bodily injuries to have been inflicted; merely the intent of inflicting them is sufficient.

    Factors to be considered when deciding whether there was intent to cause grievous bodily harm include the nature of the weapon or instrument used and the way in which it was used, the part of the body aimed at and the nature of the injuries, if any.

    ii) What must I do if I have been assaulted?

    You have two choices when you have been assaulted.

    • You can apply for a protection order, or you can lay a charge, or both.
    • A protection order is a document warning somebody to stop a particular course of action, or else to run the risk of being arrested. This gives the abuser an opportunity to turn over a new leaf. A crime record will not be disclosed against him/her. The restraining order gives you the power to get a warrant to detain that you can keep and use against the offender if he/she ignores the provisions of the protection order.

    Laying a charge means that the police will conduct an investigation and arrest the alleged offender if his/her actions are considered to be a crime.

    You can apply for an interim protection order for immediate protection, while the police are concluding the investigation.

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