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See you (back) in court…

Written by Mbulelo Baloyi

Many communities take the law into their own hands instead of working with government to stop crime. They often justify their actions by saying that suspects in criminal cases are arrested and then given bail just to commit crime again.

Guilty or innocent

According to the law, an accused is innocent until a court finds that he or she is guilty. When bail is granted in a criminal case, the accused must undertake to attend the court case until he or she is found guilty or not.

It is up to the prosecutors to persuade the presiding officer that the granting of bail will serve the best interest of justice or not. If there are strong indications that the accused might not attend his or her court case or leave the country, the prosecutor will oppose the granting of bail.

Valid address

Usually bail is also refused if the accused cannot give the court a valid physical address where he or she could be found in case of not turning up at court.

The accused will not be given bail if there are good reasons to believe that he or she may intimidate witnesses. If the prosecutor cannot provide sound reasons for the refusal of bail, the accused will be granted bail.

Bail usually comes with certain conditions, including reporting at a local police station at specific times, handing over passports or staying away from witnesses.

Did you know?

To improve public understanding of the legal system and the rights associated with it, the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) has started a public education programme in partnership with SABC Education to educate the public about various subjects related to the work of the NPA.

The programme is called Legal Features and is broadcast by the SABC on 15 radio stations nationally in all official languages. For more information and programme schedules, visit the NPA’s website www.npa.gov.za/

For more information about bail conditions, contact the National Prosecuting Authority on 012 845 6000 or make an enquiry by sending an e-mail to communication@npa.gov.za. Your e-mails go directly to the communication unit, which will respond to your enquiry, or forward it to the relevant office or unit.