Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Dolus Directus Definition:

When an accused is taken to have objectively foreseen the consequences of his/her act.

Related Terms: Dolus Eventualis

In S. v Rebede, Justice Musi and Murray of the Free State High Court, Bloemfontein (South Africa) wrote:

"Intent can occur in three forms: dolus directus, dolus indirectus and dolus eventualis.

"Intent in the form of dolus eventualis or legal intention, which is present when the perpetrator objectively foresees the possibility of his act causing death and persists regardless of the consequences, suffices to find someone guilty of murder.

"Dolus directus, on the other hand, known as intention in its ordinary grammatical sense, is present when the accused’s aim and object is to bring about the unlawful consequence, even should the chance of its resulting be small."

The South African Court of Appeal held that mens rea in the form of dolus eventualis is an elastic concept. It can range from bordering on negligence (culpa) on the one hand to dolus directus on the other. However, the test always remains whether the accused person subjectively foresaw the possibility of the death of the deceased and associated himself therewith.1


  • S v Mienies [1978] 4 SA 560; text taken from and cited with approval in S v Luke and Others, [2012] ZAWCHC 9 - NOTE 1
  • S v Radebe, [2011] ZAFSHC 118

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