Handwriting evidence (Zimbabwe)

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There is provision for handwriting evidence to be given in terms of s 246 CPE. A non-expert may identify handwriting familiar to him, but when two samples of handwriting are not known to the witness, an expert must give evidence. The expert usually called to give evidence is the Questioned Documents Examiner of the Police Forensic Science Laboratory. The expert will testify as to the results of the comparison between the handwriting on the questioned document and that of the accused.

It is desirable that the handwriting expert should produce photographs supporting his evidence to show points of similarity between the accused's handwriting and the handwriting on the questioned document. The expert should point out the similarities and their significance.

The vital question is whether the similarities are so strong as to exclude any reasonable possibility that the questioned handwriting is that of any one other than the accused.

It is the duty of the court to satisfy itself that the handwritings are those of the same person, the accused. In doing this, the court is entitled to take account of its own observations regarding the similarities and dissimilarities between the handwritings.

  • See Chidota 1966 RLR 178 (A), Chibi v Minister of Internal Affairs (GD) 1970 (1) RLR 88, Mayhele 1968 (1) RLR 133 (A), Sibanda (2) 1963 R & N 601 (SR). See also "Questioned Documents Examiners Evidence in Court" by E. Dzvairo in 1988 Vol 1 No 1 Legal Forum 16; Hoffman & Zeffertt South African Law of Evidence 4 ed pp 104-106.

See Zimbabwe Criminal Defense Manual