- S V Phetoe 2018 (1) SACR 593 (SCA)
Mr Phetoe, the accused, was convicted and sentenced in the High Court in Johannesburg (“the trial court”) of, inter alia, eight counts of common law rape*. The accused was one of seven accused persons.
On appeal to a full bench of three judges of this same High Court in Johannesburg, the rape convictions were altered by the majority judgment to “guilty as an accomplice [Afrikaans: ‘medepligtige’] in respect of all the eight counts”.
On further appeal by the accused to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein (“the SCA”), the SCA reaffirmed the meaning of an “accomplice”. By firstly, referring to our Constitutional Court judgment in Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and Another v Masingili and Another 2014 (1) SACR 437 (CC) (see Pollex in Servamus: December 2014) where in paragraph  it stated that -
“An accomplice is someone whose actions do not satisfy all the requirements for criminal liability in the definition of an offence, but who nonetheless intentionally furthers the commission of a crime by someone else who does comply with all the requirements (the perpetrator). The intent required for accomplice liability is to further the specific crime committed by the perpetrator. Upon conviction, an accomplice may receive the same sentence as a perpetrator.” (Emphasis added by the Pollex.)
Secondly, the SCA referred with approval to p266 of the learned author Snyman’s Criminal Law, sixth edition where he describes the position as follows:
“Accomplice liability may be defined as follows:
A person is guilty of a crime as an accomplice if, although he does not satisfy all the requirements for liability contained in the definition of the crime and although the conduct required for a conviction is not imputed to him by virtue of the principles relating to common purpose, he unlawfully and intentionally engages in conduct whereby he furthers the commission of a crime by somebody else.