oa Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - Notes on the nature and conduct of commissions of inquiry: South Africa

Volume 19, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



The appointment of commissions of inquiry to investigate matters of public interest has, in recent years, become so familiar a phenomenon in South Africa that the practice is sometimes regarded with a certain degree of scepticism. As much of this scepticism stems from a failure to appreciate the value and potential of such commissions generally, and the niceties of this method of investigation as practised in South Africa in particular, an exposition of some of the more important aspects of commissions of inquiry in this country is appropriate. The article reviews (1) the nature, use and purposes of commissions of inquiry in South Africa, (2) the general approach adopted by such commissions, (3) the treatment and protection of witnesses appearing before such commissions, (4) the application of the rules of natural justice to commissions of inquiry, including the question of legal representation before such commissions, and (5) the degree of privacy accorded the commission's record. The article also reviews the authorities cited in the annexure and their standing.

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