The oath: ritual and rationality

Author PJ Schwikkard

ISSN: 1996-2118
Affiliations: BA (Wits) LLB LLM (Natal) LLD (Stell), Professor of Law, University of Cape Town.
Source: South African Journal of Criminal Justice, Volume 32 Issue 3, p. 357 – 376


The administration of an oath, affirmation or admonishment is generally regarded as an indispensable marker of witness reliability in common law jurisdictions. As a result of colonisation, the same approach is entrenched in the South African legal system. This article examines the rule in its postcolonial context, its application, its rationale and its utility in furthering the truth-seeking function of the courts. It concludes with recommendations for law reform.