Witnesses testifying in court must be treated with courtesy

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The General Bar Council says witnesses testifying in court must be treated with courtesy and respect.

The advocates’ group was commenting on the case of controversial Nigerian pastor, Timothy Omotoso.

It was postponed this week to allow presiding judge, Mandela Makaula, to consider a submission by Omotoso’s legal team, that he recuses himself.

They claim the judge was too sympathetic towards the first witness 22-year-old Cheryl Zondi.

Her testimony on how the pastor had allegedly groomed and raped her since she was 14-years-old, was followed by an aggressively intimate cross-examination by lawyer Peter Daubermann for Omotoso.

Chairman of the General Bar Council, Advocate Craig Watt-Pringle says, “The obligation to protect a complainant or any witness in a trial really falls to those who are participating in the trial. Council cross-examining witnesses is not entitled without reason to be unduly aggressive, must respect the dignity of the witness and must only ask relevant questions.”

“So if one asks questions that are insulting of a witness and don’t advance the merit, then that would be out of order. I am not saying that is the case here as we also defend the right of council to perform his or her duties without fear or favour, which means that where robustness is called for, then they must commit to be robust,” explains Watt-Pringle.