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n Journal for Juridical Science - Hearsay evidence and the child witness

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Abstract

In terms of section 3(1)(c) of the <i>Law of Evidence Amendment Act&lt;/i&gt; 45 of 1988 the court has, since 3 October 1988, been given a wide discretion to admit hearsay evidence if it would be in the interests of justice to do so. How this discretion is to be applied has given rise to difficulty. The question to be addressed here is whether it would be in the interests of justice to admit the hearsay statements of a child who is a complainant in a criminal matter and who is subsequently unable to testify. The courts are very wary of admitting hearsay statements emanating from children, due to issues of competency and the cautionary rule, and for this reason certain countries have created specific legistative provisions to regulate the admissibility of children?s hearsay statements. In Namibia, the Combating of Rape Act 8 of 2000 admits hearsay via the backdoor. It is submitted that not legislation, but a common sense approach is needed to determine whether hearsy statements from child victims should be admissible. The fact that evidence is hearsay is a factor which should go to weight and not the admissibility thereof.

<b>Hoorsê-getuienis en die kindergetuie</b> <br>In terme van artikel 3(1)(c) van die Wysigingswet op die Bewysreg 45 van 1988 het die hof sedert 3 Oktober 1988 ?n wye diskresie om hoorsêgetuienis toe te laat indien dit in die belang van geregtigheid is. Die toepassing van die diskresie is problematies. Die vraag is of dit in die belang van geregtigheid is om die hoorsê-verklaring van ?n kinderklaagster, wie nie kan getuig in ?n strafsaak nie, toe te laat. Die howe is lugtig om hierdie tipe verklarings toe te laat vanweë die kwessies rondom bevoegdheid en die versigtigheidsreël, en daarom het sekere lande spesifieke statutêre voorsorgmaatreëls ingestel wat die hoorsê-verklarings van kinders reguleer. In Namibië word hoorsê indirek toelaatbaar deur die Combating of Rape Act 8 of 2000. Die skrywers stel voor dat ?n ?common sense? benadering gevolg moet word om te bepaal of die hoorsêverklarings van kinderslagoffers toelaatbaar is. Die feit dat getuienis hoorsê is, is ?n faktor wat tersaaklik is by die waarde-evaluering en nie die toelaatbaarheid daarvan nie.

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/content/juridic/27/2/EJC55489
2002-12-01
2016-12-06
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