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Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (Act No. 51 of 1977)

Chapter 22 : Conduct of Proceedings

160. Procedure at criminal proceedings where accused is absent


(1) If an accused referred to in section 159(1) or (2) again attends the proceedings in question, he may, unless he was legally represented during his absence, examine any witness who testified during his absence, and inspect the record of the proceedings or require the court to have such record read over to him.


(2) If the examination of a witness under subsection (1) takes place after the evidence on behalf of the prosecution or any co-accused has been concluded, the prosecution or such co-accused may in respect of any issue raised by the examination, lead evidence in rebuttal of evidence relating to the issue so raised.


(a) When the evidence on behalf of all the accused, other than an accused who is absent from the proceedings, is concluded, the court shall, subject to the provisions of paragraph (b), postpone the proceedings until such absent accused is in attendance and, if necessary, further postpone the proceedings until the evidence, if any, on behalf of that accused has been led.
(b) If it appears to the court that the presence of an absent accused cannot reasonably be obtained, the court may direct that the proceedings in respect of the accused who are present be concluded as if such proceedings had been separated from the proceedings at the stage at which the accused concerned became absent from the proceedings, and when such absent accused is again in attendance, the proceedings against him shall continue from the stage at which he became absent, and the court shall not be required to be differently constituted merely by reason of such separation.
(c) When, in the case of a trial, the evidence on behalf of all the accused has been concluded and any accused is absent when the verdict is to be delivered, the verdict may be delivered in respect of all the accused or be withheld until all the accused are present or be delivered in respect of any accused present and withheld in respect of the absent accused until he is again in attendance.