n Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - 'The truth the whole truth nothing but the truth' : truth, community and narrative in African procedural law




Indigenous South African legal disputes are resolved in a fundamentally different way from typical Western legal disputes. In indigenous matters attempts to arrive at the 'truth' during legal proceedings occur in a communal context. The communal context encourages a holistic narrative style of participants in the proceedings, as apposed to the interrogative and interruptive style of Western proceedings. The differences in style can be attributed, in part, to different notions of 'truth' and different understandings of what the ultimate objectives of legal proceedings are. Typically Western legal procedure attempts to arrive at 'truth' in fact and 'truth' in law - so called factual or forensic truth. Indigenous legal procedure takes a broader understanding of truth. Indigenous legal procedure situates 'truth' in fact and 'truth' in law in the broader context of other truths, including 'personal' and 'narrative' truth; social or 'dialogue' truth and healing or restorative truth.


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