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Kelly Phelps


Kelly Phelps is a senior lecturer in the Public Law Department at the University of Cape Town. She holds a BA in English literature and Anthropology (2000) and a BSocSci (Hons) in Criminology (2001) from the University of Cape Town and a BA Law (2004) from the University of Cambridge. In 2008 she was conferred a MA from the University of Cambridge. She teaches Criminal Law on the LLB programme, and Punishment and Human Rights and Forensics and the Law to LLM & MPhil students. She researches and publishes on constitutional criminal adjudication, sexual offences and sentencing.

From 2006 - 2010 she was Assistant Editor of the South African Journal of Criminal Justice. She has been an expert assessor for various accredited journals including South African Law Journal, South African Journal of Human Rights, South African Journal of Criminal Justice and international journals Social Problems and Malawi Law Journal.

Before joining UCT Kelly was a freelance criminological researcher at NGO's, including SAYStOP (South African Young Sex Offenders Project) and Gun Free South Africa, and worked as research assistant to Prof Dirk van Zyl Smit and Prof Elrena van der Spuy (Institute of Criminology, UCT). In 2005 she assisted the Legal Resources Centre in Cape Town with their Richtersveld land-claim litigation. She was special advisory commissioner for South African Law Reform Commission Project 25 on Statutory Law Reform. She has provided opinions and interviews on various criminal justice matters including acting as a legal analyst for CNN on the Oscar Pistorius case in 2013 - 2014.

Her current research focuses on legal issues raised by State v Pistorius, which was appealed in 2015. Click here for her Working Paper: "The role of error in objecto in South African Criminal Law: An opportunity for re-evaluation presented by State v Pistorius.”