Leave to appeal granted in Zephany anonymity case

Celeste Nurse and a family member leave the Cape Town Magistrates' Court on February 27, 2015. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Liza van Deventer)

Celeste Nurse and a family member leave the Cape Town Magistrates' Court on February 27, 2015. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Liza van Deventer)

Judge ruled that anonymity be stripped from child offenders, witnesses and victims once they turned 18.

The Centre for Child Law (CCL) has obtained leave to appeal against a court ruling that extended the anonymity afforded to child offenders and witnesses in criminal proceedings to child victims of crime, but did not extend the protection after they turn 18.

Judge Wendy Hughes last month ruled in the High Court in Pretoria that the anonymity protections under section 154(3) of the Criminal Procedure Act applied to victims of crime under the age of 18 as well.

She, however, found this anonymity did not extent to child offenders, witnesses and victims once they turned 18. She stressed that the restriction related to criminal court proceedings involving a child and could not be used as a blanked clause in other legal instances.

The ruling followed an application by the CCL, Zephany Nurse, Childline, Nicro and Media Monitoring Africa, but was opposed by major media houses.

Zephany became the subject of media scrutiny after she was kidnapped at birth, but was reunited with her family as a teenager and the woman who raised her was prosecuted for abduction.

When the media threatened to publish her name once she turned 18, CCL obtained an urgent court order preventing the media from revealing her identity.

Judge Hughes extended the interdict pending the outcome of any appeal proceedings. CCL, Nurse and other organisations went to court to ensure the protection was offered to all child victims, witnesses and offenders before and after they turned 18.

CCL argued identification after such children turned 18 would cause irrevocable harm. The appeal will be heard in the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein at a date still to be determined.




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