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

Chapter 23 : Witnesses

196. Evidence of accused and husband or wife on behalf of accused


(1) An accused and the wife or husband of an accused shall be a competent witness for the defence at every stage of criminal proceedings, whether or not the accused is charged jointly with any other person: Provided that—
(a) an accused shall not be called as a witness except upon his own application;
(b) the wife or husband of an accused shall not be a compellable witness where a co-accused calls that wife or husband as a witness for the defence.

[Section 196(1)(b) substituted by section 7 of Act No. 45 of 1988]


(2) The evidence which an accused may, upon his own application, give in his own defence at joint criminal proceedings, shall not be inadmissible against a co-accused at such proceedings by reason only that such accused is for any reason not a competent witness for the prosecution against such co-accused.


(3) An accused may not make an unsworn statement at his trial in lieu of evidence but shall, if he wishes to give evidence, do so on oath or, as the case may be, by affirmation.