oa De Jure - Children seeking justice: safeguarding the rights of child offenders in South African criminal courts

Volume 52 Number 1
  • ISSN : 2225-7160



This contribution makes an argument for the use of witness tools as prescribed in section 170A of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 in criminal cases involving child offenders if they choose an active defense. The argument based on the assumption that children who violate the law are themselves victims and their vulnerability is already elevated by the time they experience the criminal justice system. The use of witness tools in the criminal justice system is in the best interests of the child because the flexible nature of the best interest determination allows for a case-bycase approach that takes into account the unique characteristics and lived experiences of each individual child. Thus, this contribution advocates the use of section 28(2) of the Constitution to implement and interpret safeguards under section 170A of the Criminal Procedure Act. This approach to child justice ensures the establishment of the truth and is an essential component of a fair trial and in line with the ethos enshrined in the Constitution.

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