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

Chapter 24 : Evidence

221. Admissibility of certain trade or business records


(1) In criminal proceedings in which direct oral evidence of a fact would be admissible, any statement contained in a document and tending to establish that fact shall, upon production of the document, be admissible as evidence of that fact if—
(a) the document is or forms part of a record relating to any trade or business and has been compiled in the course of that trade or business, from information supplied, directly or indirectly, by persons who have or may reasonably be supposed to have personal knowledge of the matters dealt with in the information they supply; and
(b) the person who supplied the information recorded in the statement in question is dead or is outside the Republic or is unfit by reason of his physical or mental condition to attend as a witness or cannot with reasonable diligence be identified or found or cannot reasonably be expected, having regard to the time which has elapsed since he supplied the information as well as all the circumstances, to have any recollection of the matters dealt with in the information he supplied.


(2) For the purpose of deciding whether or not a statement is admissible as evidence under this section, the court may draw any reasonable inference from the form or content of the document in which the statement is contained, and may, in deciding whether or not a person is fit to attend as a witness, act on a certificate purporting to be a certificate of a registered medical practitioner.


(3) In estimating the weight to be attached to a statement admissible as evidence under this section, regard shall be had to all the circumstances from which any inference may reasonably be drawn as to the accuracy or otherwise of the statement, and, in particular, to the question whether or not the person who supplied the information recorded in the statement, did so contemporaneously with the occurrence or existence of the facts stated, and to the question whether or not that person or any person concerned with making or keeping the record containing the statement, had any incentive to conceal or misrepresent the facts.


(4) No provision of this section shall prejudice the admissibility of any evidence which would be admissible apart from the provisions of this section.


(5) In this section—

"business" includes any public transport, public utility or similar undertaking carried on by a local authority, and the activities of the Post Office and the Railways Administration;

"document" includes any device by means of which information is recorded or stored; and

"statement" includes any representation of fact, whether made in words or otherwise.