Commentary on the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act [Chapter 9:23]

This book was compiled by Professor G. Feltoe,  2017


A “Code” is a piece of legislation gathering together in one place all the main aspects of a particular branch of the law.

This Code brings together in one piece of legislation all of the major aspects of the Criminal Law of Zimbabwe, whilst at the same time effecting a whole series of reforms and improvements to the pre-existing Criminal Law. Hence the title of the Act refers to both codification and reform of the Criminal Law.

The adoption of the Criminal Law Code by Parliament is an important development for the Criminal Law of Zimbabwe. This Code will both improve the quality of the Zimbabwean Criminal Law and its general accessibility.

Previously the Criminal Law of Zimbabwe was widely dispersed. Much of the Criminal Law was not written down in statutes but was contained in the common law. The locating of the common law dealing with a particular crime or a defence to criminal liability was often a laborious exercise as it involved tracing back to the original common law and then ascertaining how over the years the Zimbabwean courts (and also the South African courts) had interpreted and applied that common law. A considerable amount of the previous Criminal Law was widely dispersed and was contained in a whole variety of different pieces of legislation.

As the Code not only brings together in one place the pre-existing law but also makes a series of changes to the pre-existing law, it will be necessary for all those involved in the administration of the Criminal Law to familiarise themselves with what is contained in this Criminal Law Code.

This Commentary is intended to provide a basic guide to the Code to enable those using it to find their way around it and to understand the changes to the law that it brings about. It will be of use to legal practitioners, judicial officers, prosecutors, defence lawyers and police officers. The Commentary will also be of assistance to Law Students studying the subject of Criminal Law.

Where the Criminal Law Code has simply codified the existing law without alteration, reference can still continue to be made to A Guide to the Criminal Law in Zimbabwe by G. Feltoe (3rd ed published by the Legal Resources Foundation of Zimbabwe in 2004.) Throughout this commentary, references will be provided to the relevant portions of this Guide. (This guide will be referred to in this commentary simply as “Guide”.) This commentary also makes reference to decisions make on a number of statutory criminal offences which have not been incorporated into the Criminal Law Code.

The following statutes are referred to in this commentary–

Aircraft Offences Act [Chapter 9:01]

Anatomical Donations and Post-mortem Examinations Act [Chapter 15:01]

Child Abduction Act [Chapter 5:05]

Children’s Act [Chapter 5:06]

Civil Aviation Act [Chapter 13:16]

Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act [Chapter 9:07]

Customary Marriages Act [Chapter 5:07]

Dangerous Drugs Act [Chapter 15:03]

Fiscal Appeal Court Act [Chapter 23:05]

Income Tax Act [Chapter 23:06]

Inquests Act [Chapter 7:07]

Intellectual Property Tribunal Act [Chapter 26:08]

Labour Act [Chapter 28:01]

Magistrates Court Act [Chapter 7:10]

Marriage Act [Chapter 5:11]

Medicines and Allied Substances Control Act [Chapter 15:03]

Mental Health Act [Chapter 15:12]

Miscellaneous Offences Act [Chapter 9:17]

Police Act [Chapter 11:10]

Prisons Act [Chapter 7:11]

Preservation of Constitutional Government Act [Chapter 11:01]

Public Health Act [Chapter 15:09]

Public Order and Security Act [Chapter 11:17]

Reserve Bank Act [Chapter 22:15]

Road Traffic Act [Chapter 13:11]

Serious Offences (Confiscation of Profits) Act [Chapter 9:17]

Termination of Pregnancy Act [Chapter 10:15]

Witchcraft Suppression Act [Chapter 9:19]

When these statutes are referred to in the commentary, the chapter numbers will be omitted.

I would like to thank Mr N Dias and Mr B Crozier for their editorial checking of the first edition of this text and Susan Feltoe for checking of later editions.