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n Child Abuse Research in South Africa - A call for a cautionary approach to common sense
Under the heading of Landmark Judgment, the following was reported by Adv Johann Engelbrecht SC in the October, 1999, SAPSAC Newsletter:
"It cannot be said that the evidence of children, in sexual and other cases, where they are single witnesses, obliges the court to apply the cautionary rules before a conviction can take place." This was the court's finding in The Director of Public Prosecutions v S, a landmark judgment, delivered by His Lordship Mr Justice Kirk-Cohen (Lewis AL concurring) in the High Court of South Africa, Transvaal Provincial Division (Case Number A906/98). The court emphasised that the State bears the onus to prove the guilt of an accused beyond reasonable doubt. It follows, therefore, that in certain cases caution may not be necessary, whilst in other cases a court may be unable to rely solely upon the evidence of a single witness. The facts of each particular case will determine the approach required". In this article Adv Meintjes discusses the situation more fully.
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