Previous consistent statements to police (Zimbabwe)

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A statement made by a State witness in a criminal case to the police, whether as an affidavit or otherwise, is not normally admissible in evidence unless he departs from it in a material respect and is impeached. A witness, as a rule, is not permitted to confirm or strengthen his evidence by testifying that he had made a similar statement on a previous occasion.

There are, however some exceptions to this rule.

  • If the accused puts to the witness under cross-examination that his story is a recent fabrication, the witness' previous statement becomes admissible in order to show that he had made a previous consistent statement at a time sufficiently early to be inconsistent with the suggestion that the present account was a recent invention.
  • Complaints in sexual cases are admissible to show consistency and to negative a defence of consent, but not to prove its content or to corroborate the evidence of the complainant;
  • Other previous statements which are admissible are statements forming part of the res gestae, statements relating to previous identification, to show consistency in the identification and previous statements by accused persons .

(The res gestae consists of the facts constituting and immediately accompanying the matter which is in issue. It includes facts leading up to, explaining and following continuously from the facts in issue. Thus evidence by a hearer of what the victim shouted when assaulted is admissible as part of the res gestae.)

See Zimbabwe Criminal Defense Manual