CROSS-EXAMINATION ON OPINION OF SUBJECTIVE STATE OF MIND OF ANOTHER PERSON

S v AF 2018 (1) SACR 377 (WCC)

Evidence — Witness — Cross-examination — Of accused — On basis of alleged fabricated claim by complainant — Questions requiring witness to express opinion about subjective state of mind of another person permissible when issue raised in evidence-in-chief.

 

In an appeal from convictions of sexual offences committed against a minor, the appellant’s counsel took issue with the cross-examination of the accused. It was suggested that the extensive questioning by the prosecutor in the court a quo about the basis for a fabricated claim by the complainant required him to express an opinion about the subjective state of mind of another person, and that questions directed at eliciting this type of evidence were impermissible.

Held, that the appellant had been asked in his evidence in chief to express a view as to why the complainant and her mother had made the damaging claims against him, and had initially offered a garbled explanation to the effect that the complainant’s mother had probably wanted to save face amongst their friends and family when their affair had been exposed. That assertion rendered cross-examination on the point permissible.

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