The Intimidation Act 74 of 1982 criminalises two offences related to intimidation.
The first offence is described in section 1(1) as:
A person (perpetrator) who threatens someone (victim) to do something or to fail to do something (to act or not to act), or intimidates the victim to abandon his/her beliefs or standpoints by assaulting, injuring or causing damage to the victim or by threatening to kill, assault, injure, or causing damage to the victim or a group of people of a specific nature, class, or kind; is guilty and can be given a maximum fine of R200 000 or can be given a maximum prison sentence of ten years, or both a fine and a prison sentence. A perpetrator can also be fined and/or sentenced to prison if he/she/they make a person fear for his/her/their life or property, by verbal or written threats.
The second offence is described in 1A(1) as:
A person who either alone, or with another party commits an act of violence or plans, encourages, gives permission, commands, or commits any other act that causes acts of violence or might cause acts of violence against the general public, or a part thereof, is guilty and can be sentenced to a maximum of 25 years imprisonment, or a fine ordered by the court, or both a fine and imprisonment.
The Intimidation Act was created to prohibit certain forms of intimidation and to provide for matters connected therewith.
Section 1(1) covers intimidation regarding individuals. A good example of intimidation as described in S 1(1) is mafia or gang members. They would threaten their victims with death or they would damage their property to obtain money or goods. Or within the gang, members would threaten each other to act on matters or ignore it.
Section 1A emphasizes on large groups of people. The most recent example for this would be Julius Malema singing “kill the Boer”. His act intimidates the white population of the country, by instructing people to spread fear into the hearts of boere, or even act on the rage created by the song.
Although there is a lot of intimidation acts in South Africa, a lot of cases go unreported, because the victims are afraid for their lives, or the lives of their family, or the damaging of their property. From a psychological standpoint, threatening behaviours are supposed to be a maladaptive outgrowth of normal competitive urge for interrelation dominance generally seen in animals.
Like all behavioural traits it exists in greater or lesser manifestation in each individual person over time, but may be a more significant "compensatory behaviour" for some as opposed to others. Behavioural theorists often see threatening behaviours as a consequence of being threatened by others, including parents, authority figures, playmates and siblings.
Intimidation can also be linked with assault, domestic violence, murder, attempted murder, vandalism, kidnapping, etc, as a perpetrator might act on his aggression or try to gain advantage in the mind game that he/she is playing.