Court dismisses application to prevent naming children in cases after they turn 18

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)
(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Pretoria - An application to prevent the naming of child victims, witnesses and offenders after they turn 18 has been dismissed by the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday.

The Centre for Child Law, Media Monitoring Africa, and lawyers for Zephany Nurse, who was at the centre of a previous case, and others brought the case seeking clarity on the interpretation of section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Act, as well as an order granting further protection once children turn 18. 

- Read: Media should not identify child victims and offenders after they turn 18, court hears

While the identity of Zephany Nurse will be protected until the outcome of any appeals, the application for the adult extension of identity protection under the Criminal Procedure Act was dismissed. 

Several media houses opposed the case including Media24. 

Judge Wendy Hughes ruled that child witnesses, victims and offenders under the age of 18 are offered protection by section 154 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Act 52 of 1977, but that the order sought by the applicants - that their identity be protected after the age of 18 - be dismissed as it is neither permissible nor required by The Constitution.

Furthermore, the court ruled that the true identity of Zephany Nurse be protected until after possible appeals. 

Zephany was kidnapped shortly after birth in Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town. 

She was discovered 17 years later by her biological father after her biological sister attended the same high school and friends kept saying that the two looked alike. 

DNA testing confirmed she was their missing child. 

Zephany was the name given to her by her biological parents - she grew up with a different name given by another family.

The woman who raised Zephany was arrested in February 2015 and subsequently sentenced to 10 years in prison for kidnapping her. 

Zephany, who grew up under another name, is now 19 years old. 

Professor Ann Skelton of the Centre for Child Law said they would be applying for leave to appeal in order to protect the identity of victims, witnesses and offenders beyond the age of 18.

They were, however, happy that the word "victim" was included, and it was not in the statute which originally only protected child offenders and witnesses. 

- News24 is a division of 24.com, which falls under Media24.


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