Incompetent witnesses (Zimbabwe)

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Certain witnesses are not competent to give evidence according to the rules of evidence. For example, under s 246 CPE, "no person appearing or proved to be afflicted with a mental disorder or defect or labouring under any imbecility of mind arising from intoxication or otherwise, shall be competent to give evidence while under the influence of any such malady or disability".

Where an allegation that a witness is mentally disordered is made during a criminal trial and the witness appears to be mentally disordered, the court must properly investigate whether the witness is incompetent in terms of this provision.

In Ndiweni S-149-89 the court failed to probe an assertion by the defence that a State witness was labouring under some mental disorder. The State did not challenge this assertion. The appeal court said that this was an irregularity.


See Zimbabwe Criminal Defense Manual