Penetrating knife injuries of the face are more common in South Africa than the rest of the world. These injuries can be life-threatening, especially where the major blood vessels of the face are involved. The approach to treatment should be multidisciplinary, beginning with the trauma unit to provide airway maintenance and haemodynamic stabilisation. An interventional radiologist may be consulted for angiography. The aim of the present study was to retrospectively analyse all cases of knife-inflicted penetrating injuries to the maxillofacial region with the knife in situ and subsequently develop a management protocol to be used by maxillofacial surgery registrars when presented with such cases. Materials and methods It was a retrospective, cross-sectional and record-based study, analysing all penetrating knife injuries reported at various hospitals for a period of 11 years. In this study, 24 cases of knife injuries were analysed. Results Twenty-one patients (87.5%) in this series were male and three (12.5%) were female. Of these 24 patients, 13 (54.2%) were coloured and 11 (45.8%) were black. There were no white or Indian patients. Post-surgical recovery of all patients was rapid and uneventful, and there were no fatalities. Conclusion Patients with knife injuries to the face with no definite signs of vascular injury can thus be safely and accurately managed on the basis of physical examination and plain-film radiography. An angiogram is mandatory if the patient presents with excessive bleeding, an expanding haematoma or if the knife blade is in the region of any large vessels.