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Supreme Court Act, 1959 (Act No. 59 of 1959)

31. Manner in which witness may be dealt with on refusal to give evidence or produce documents


(1) Whenever any person who appears either in obedience to a subpoena or by virtue of a warrant issued under section thirty or is present and is verbally required by the court to give evidence in any civil proceedings, refuses to be sworn or to make an affirmation, or, having been sworn or having made an affirmation, refuses to answer such questions as are put to him, or refuses or fails to produce any document or thing which he is required to produce without any just excuse for such refusal or failure, the court may adjourn the proceedings for any period not exceeding eight days and may, in the meantime, by warrant commit the person so refusing or failing to gaol unless he sooner consents to do what is required of him.


(2) If any person referred to in subsection (1) again refuses at the resumed hearing of the proceedings to do what is so required of him, the court may again adjourn the proceedings and commit him for a like period and so again from time to time until such person consents to do what is required of him.


(3) Nothing in this section contained shall prevent the court from giving judgment in any case or otherwise disposing of the proceedings according to any other sufficient evidence taken.


(4) No person shall be bound to produce any document or thing not specified or otherwise sufficiently described in the subpoena unless he actually has it in court.


(5) When a subpoena is issued to procure the attendance of a judicial officer to give evidence or to produce any book, paper or document in any civil proceedings, and it appears—
(a) that he is unable to give any evidence or to produce any book, paper or document which would be relevant to any issue in such proceedings; or
(b) that such book, paper or document could properly be produced by some other person; or
(c) that the compelling of his attendance would be an abuse of the process of the court,

the court may, notwithstanding anything in this section contained, after reasonable notice by the registrar to the party who sued out of the subpoena and after hearing that party in chambers if he appears, make an order cancelling such subpoena.