Witness Anonymity and the South African Criminal Justice System
South African Journal of Criminal Justice (SACJ) 2010 (3) 351-370
20 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2014
Date Written: June 23, 2010
This article will focus on witness anonymity as a tool to encourage the reporting of criminal activities and criminal victimisation by victims and other witnesses, and as a mechanism to ensure that witnesses in criminal proceedings are duly protected. This will be juxtaposed against an accused’s right to a fair trial, in terms of s 35(3) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 and relevant provisions of the Criminal Procedure Act,1 as well as the foundational principle of the criminal justice system that an accused has a right to confront witnesses testifying against him or her and that such testimony should be given in an open court and in the presence of the accused. Arguments in favour of witness anonymity, primarily based on the contention that the right of confrontation is not absolute, will be considered together with examples from other jurisdictions and arguments asserting that the curtailing of the right of confrontation to accommodate true witness anonymity are too extreme and inconceivable in terms of an accused’s right to a fair trial.
Keywords: Witness anonymity, South Africa, Criminal Justice, Right to a fair trial, Witness, Secondary victimisation, Witness testimony
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