The Black Flame (part two): Snyman’s Criminal Law

Author: Tshepo Bogosi Mosaka

ISSN: 1996-2118
Affiliations: LLB (Wits) LLM (UCT) PhD (Nottingham), Lecturer in Law, Faculty of Law, University of Cape Town
Source: South African Journal of Criminal Justice, Volume 34 Issue 3, p. 442 – 460


This is the second of a trilogy of papers (entitled after WEB du Bois’s trilogy of novels titled The Black Flame) reviewing Snyman’s Criminal Law. The decision to commence working on the review was made after encountering the unprecedented section on African customary law in the latest edition of the book. This is a major achievement for this work that promises an exciting change of direction. This paper focuses on four areas in which the book can proceed further into this new direction. These include: (i) a comprehensive clarification of the underlying jurisdictional complexity within which South African criminal law (as inheritor of Roman-Dutch and English law) currently finds itself; (ii) the comparative nature and source of Snyman’s preferred arrangement of his general principles of criminal liability; (iii) the brief account of legal history in the introductory section; and (iv) the section on African customary criminal law. The overall argument made is that a northbound-gazing criminal law scholarship makes comparative criminal law between South Africa and European jurisdictions virtually impossible. The next edition of Snyman’s Criminal Law will be served better by a comparative focus on African jurisdictions and less on Europe.