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Shar Grainger
 
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Making False Statement Under Oath

02 August 2016, 13:16

Summary:   Did you listen to the State Witnesses give their testimony in the Oscar Pistorius trial?

I am sure when an individual listens to the videos available on Youtube they may question the responses from one or more witness in Defence cross examination …because their testimonies  DO NOT ADD UP!

PERJURY – Definition;

Any intentionally false statement made under oath or affirmation is perjury, a criminal offence that could result in a prison sentence. Inducing another person to make false statements under oath is also a crime - subornation of perjury is the crime of persuading a person to commit perjury — the swearing of a false oath to tell the truth in a legal proceeding, be it spoken or written.

Making a false statement under oath or affirmation in the course of a judicial proceeding is a crime under South African Common Law. The common law is supplemented by a statutory crime, namely making conflicting statements under different oaths (Contravention of Section 319 (point number 3) Act 56 of 1955). It is also a crime to make a false statement in an affidavit.

Witness Statement Procedure.

A witness statement is a formal document containing an individual (witness)  own account  of the facts relating to issues arising in a dispute. Comments made in  the statement should be limited to fact, and comments based on opinion  should be kept to a minimum.

The purpose of the witness statement is to provide written evidence  to support a party's case that will, if necessary, be used as evidence  in court. The statement is a crucial part of the case, designed to show  it in its strongest light. It is important, therefore, to ensure that  the statement is accurate and comprehensive. The statement must be in the witnesses own words. It is therefore important that  s/he understand what is included in their statement and that it accurately  reflects their account of the facts. The procedure after  the statement has been taken, a draft will be produced for the witness to  review and amend where necessary. It is often the case that there will  be several drafts of the statement. Once the witness is satisfied, they will be  asked to sign and date it and the statement will become their 'proof of  evidence'. It will normally be edited further for the purposes of  producing a witness statement in court proceedings - in this case, the witness  will be asked to sign a 'statement of truth' contained in the witness  statement.

Who will get to see the witness statement?

After the statement has been signed, a copy of it will  normally be disclosed - along with all other witness statements - to the  ‘other’ party. The other party will disclose the witness statement/s in  support of its case at the same time.

The rationale for the criminalization of these offences is that witnesses “should always tell the truth and nothing but the truth in courts or in affidavits.” Without this the system will not be able to function effectively and with integrity.

False statements: means verbal or in writing in a form of an affidavit. Although the point has not been authoritatively decided in South Africa, it seems that the statement must be ‘objectively false’.

Statement of truth

This is a statement at the end of a witness statement,  which states that the witness believes the facts in the witness  statement are true and accurate.

Proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against  a witness who makes, or causes to be made, a false statement which is  verified by a statement of truth in a witness statement where there is  no honest belief in that truth.

In the trial court of Oscar Pistorius the state were accused by the Defence of “engineering witness statements” there were several inconsistencies in state witness statements discovered under the defence cross examination.   “Key” witnesses  giving evidence for the State, including a neighbor  was not willing to corroborate her evidence had  said under cross examination  by the Defence  that she had been told what to say by the prosecutor and another example will be  in regards the firearm related charge in the restaurant and the reason for this witness response to specific question was established by council for the Defence to be engineered.   I find it particularly strange that the witnesses having committed perjury and giving false statements was completely overlooked by the Judge and her assessors! 

This evidence  recorded of the trial is available on Youtube.

1.            LINK:  To Video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYa...

2.            LINK:  To Refer Firearms Control Act

http://www.saflii.org/za/legis/hist...

DEFEATING OR OBSTRUCTING THE COURSE OF JUSTICE

Its important to note that these are not two distinct crimes. It is a single crime of defeating or obstructing the course of justice.

This crime consist of unlawfully and intentionally engaging in conduct that defeats the course or administration of justice.

Conduct can take many forms for an example: influencing or trying to influence a witness, fabricating evidence, hampering the investigation of a crime scene and so on. Depending on facts and circumstances, such actions can overlap with crimes such as forgery, fraud, extortion and corruption.  In the trial council for the Defence cross-examined several of the states witness only to uncover witness had been fabricating their evidence and it was also evident that the policemen responsible for collecting witness statements had influenced witness statements. 

Evidence of the witness testimony can be found on Youtube dated from March 2014.  It will also appear the ethics and conduct of the State Prosecutor leaves little to be desired,  has come under much scrutiny and criticism from the international  law fraternity despite having been reported on several occasions to the South African Human Rights Commission to no avail.  The individual can only ask the question - “Could he be a protected species?”  

Could it be that the courts have adopted a “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” mentality?

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

 

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