Defence challenges of forensic scientific evidence in criminal proceedings in South Africa

Authors Jo-Mari Visser

ISSN: 1996-2118
Affiliations: Senior Lecturer in Law, University of the Free State
Source: South African Journal of Criminal Justice, Volume 28 Issue 1, p. 24 – 39


This article seeks to understand the roles of the two adversarial parties involved in the presentation and testing of forensic scientific evidence in criminal proceedings in South Africa, and to predict the future of challenging expert evidence in developing countries. The traditional roles of parties to an adversarial criminal trial are reviewed, with specific focus on the practice of challenging forensic scientific evidence presented by the prosecution, as are developments in the American legal system with reference to the effectiveness of challenging expert evidence presented by the prosecution. The possible impact of these developments on the future constitutionality of legal representation as practised in South Africa, is also briefly considered. The importance of reliable forensic scientific evidence employed in criminal proceedings necessitates not only the presentation of accurate forensic evidence by both adversarial parties, but also the informed cross-examination of opposing experts. This, in turn, demands equality in the adversarial battle, which, as it currently stands, does not exist in developing countries such as South Africa.