Does Mistaken Belief in Consent Constitute a Defence in South African Rape Cases?




consent, intention, mistaken in belief, rape, reasonable belief in consent


In the 2020 case of Coko v S 2022 1 SACR 24 (ECG), the Eastern Cape High Court held that a person's mistaken belief in consent to penetrative sex could constitute a valid defence in law. In statutory provisions and jurisprudence, the absence of the victim's consent is fundamental in establishing a case of rape. This paper evaluates the decision, where it was held that when an appellant reasonably believes that the complainant/victim had consented to sex, this alone could be enough to acquit the appellant of the charge of rape.




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Author Biography

Serone Stal, Fort-Hare University

 Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Fort Hare University




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Case law

Coko v S 2022 1 SACR 24 (ECG) DOI:

Director of Public Prosecutions Gauteng Local Division, Johannesburg v Ramolefi (705/2018) [2019] ZASCA 90 (3 June 2019)

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S v Malgas 2001 SACR 469 (SCA)

S v Solomon 1973 4 SA 644 (C)

S v Van der Meyden 1999 1 SACR 447 (W)

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How to Cite

Stal, S. (2023). Does Mistaken Belief in Consent Constitute a Defence in South African Rape Cases?. Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 26, (Published on 5 June 2023) pp 1 – 20.



Case Notes