Should we publish the identity of an accused on social media? An expert debates

The name and photographs of a man accused of raping a seven-year-old child at a restaurant in Pretoria were widely circulated on social media before he appeared in court.

A number of news publications ran the story and published his name too which is against the Criminal Procedure Act.

The country’s Criminal Procedure Act of 1977 prohibits the publication of the identity of the accused before they appear in court to prevent undue prejudice to a person before the prosecuting authority decides to prosecute.

Lecturer in Criminal Justice at UCT Jameelah Omar says the Criminal Procedure Law is old and was drafted before the existence of social media, therefore, should be relooked at.

Read: Sharing Dros rape video and naming suspect is unlawful, warns legal expert

The Criminal Procedure Act is quite old now, it was first enacted in 1977. This is a precision that is quite old as well and probably in need of reform because social media wasn't conceived of at the time.

Jameelah Omar, Lecturer in Criminal Justice at UCT

Omar says although she doesn't think the NPA will prosecute those who published the identity of the accused, people should be careful of what they post on social media.

I think it is important for people to realise that they should be cautious about what they post on social media.

Jameelah Omar, Lecturer in Criminal Justice at UCT

To hear the rest of the conversation, listen below:


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