Bodily Harm/Assault

An assault is carried out by a threat of bodily harm coupled with an apparent, present ability to cause the harm.

It is both a crime and a tort and, therefore, may result in either criminal and/or civil liability.

Bodily Harm/Assault

There are various types of assault. It is important to know the difference and the different processes that you need to follow prior to making a claim. Essentially, if you are going to claim for damages as a result of an assault, it will need to be on the basis of a charge that you have laid at the police station against the person who assaulted you. The suspect or accused must have public liability insurance in place or at least have a monthly income to claim from. You can’t claim against a man of “straw”

However, in order to open a case docket at the SAPS and lay a charge of assault, you first need to have been examined by a medical doctor. The doctor must note these injuries in your medical folder as clinical notes.

The doctor doing the examination must note as many details as possible of all injuries sustained. The police will assist you in obtaining what is called a J88 medical form. This form is a completed document that the medical doctor who examined you should complete describing all injuries noted, including your emotional status and any other evidence of substance use. There are also medical diagrams and x-ray reports confirming your injuries.

Make sure you get a full examination of all your injuries and that the doctor note all of your injuries on the clinical notes.

If possible, take photographs. Photographs are always good evidence.

Tips for dealing with the situation

Quantification of Damages


The J88 form does not constitute a charge, nor is it a case number. You still need to lay a charge of assault with the police at your nearest police station. It is then up to the police to investigate your charge and to decide whether to prosecute the case criminally. You may also wish to pursue a civil claim, even if the police do not proceed with prosecution. A case may not be prosecuted if there is contested evidence of the circumstances surrounding the event.

Call The Police
Seek medical assistance immediately, do not change clothes, wash, clean wounds etc. Also do not delay, even if you know that your injuries are minor.

File a report at your nearest police station.

Take Photos
As difficult as it may be, do not, under any circumstances, wash your hands, your clothes, your mouth (including brushing your teeth) or your genitals. Seek immediate medical attention at an emergency medical facility. If possible, take a trusted friend or family member with you, as there may be important information to record which you may be too distressed to remember.

Always take photos of injuries sustained from all angles. In all assaults, there is bruising and swelling and it is important to note all injuries.