ET accused to test new act

2010-04-08 00:00

THE newly implemented Child Justice Act will be tested publicly in the coming months as a 15-year-old goes on trial for the alleged murder of AWB leader Eugene Terre’Blanche.

According to the director of the Centre for Child Law, Dr Ann Skelton, the child offender in the Terre’Blanche case was assessed by a probation officer yesterday — separately from the co-accused.

Skelton said the new act, in the Terre’Blanche case, will work in favour of both the child and adult on trial.

“Due to the fact that the two are charged together, certain rules aimed at protection of the child will also incidentally affect the adult co-accused. So the adult may benefit from the fact that the trial of a child offender must be dealt with as speedily as possible,” she said.

According to Skelton, the act advocates “restorative justice”, or justice aiming to rehabilitate child offenders and reintegrate them into society as upstanding citizens.

Assessments of child offenders will now be mandatory before they appear at a preliminary inquiry, and an arres­ted child must appear before a preliminary inquiry within 48 hours.

“The preliminary inquiry is an informal pre-trial procedure, which is inquisitorial in nature at which the magistrate and prosecutor together with the child, child’s parents, guardian or an appropriate adult and the probation officer decide on the best plan for the child,” said Skelton.

Skelton said the new system will seek to understand each child’s unique circumstance.

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