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What's the difference between common assault and assault GBH?

by , 10 October 2013
Yesterday, Afro-pop singer Kelly Khumalo appeared in the Hillbrow Magistrate's Court where she was charged with three counts of assault, grievous bodily harm, reckless and negligent driving and damage to property, eNCA reports. She was arrested for common assault, after she allegedly assaulted the wife of Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa. Khumalo was granted bail and her case was postponed for further investigation. She's expected to reappear in court on October 31. The case has certainly cast the spotlight on assault. Read on to discover the difference between common assault and Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) so you can ensure your company policies cover both.

Khumalo's not the only one who's been accused of assault. Cases of assault have been making headlines all week.

On Tuesday, a 44-year-old man laid a complaint of assault against former president Nelson Mandela's grandson, Mandla Mandela. This, after he allegedly pointed a gun at the man during an argument in Mthatha.

These cases have put the spotlight firmly on assault and words like 'common assault and 'assault GBH' have been flying around.

But is there a difference between common assault and assault GBH?

According to the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service, because assault isn't only a workplace offence, but also a criminal offence, the same criminal law terminology is used to separate less serious assault from assault with more serious consequences.

GBH usually causes major injury and is generally done with some type of weapon.

It's important to note that weapons don't only refer to knives or guns. It can be anything that can seriously injure someone. Such as an iron pipe, a brick, a beer bottle, a broom stick, even a cup of hot coffee thrown into a person's face.

Criminal law makes a significant distinction between common assault and assault GBH.

Common assault's hardly ever penalised with a prison term, whereas GBH generally results in imprisonment.

Company disciplinary policies often don't create two separate offences. This is fine, says Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service, even though assault's a criminal offence.

In the workplace, you can discipline employees for assault in terms of your Code of Conduct or Disciplinary Code and Procedure.

By knowing the difference between common assault and assault GBH, you'll be able to deal with assault in the workplace effectively.

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