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

Chapter 32 : Mercy and Free Pardon

327. Further evidence and free pardon or substitution of verdict by State President


(1) If any person convicted of any offence in any court has in respect of the conviction exhausted all the recognised legal procedures pertaining to appeal or review, or if such procedures are no longer available to him or her, and such person or his or her legal representative addresses the Minister by way of petition, supported by relevant affidavit, stating that further evidence has since become available which materially affects his or her conviction, the Minister may, if he or she considers that such further evidence, if true, might reasonably affect the conviction, direct that the petition and the relevant affidavits be referred to the court in which the conviction occurred.

[Section 327(1) substituted by section 45(a) of Act No. 105 of 1997]


(2) The court shall receive the said affidavits as evidence and may examine and permit the examination of any witness in connection therewith, including any witness on behalf of the State, and to this end the provisions of this Act relating to witnesses shall apply as if the matter before the court were a criminal trial in that court.


(3) Unless the court directs otherwise, the presence of the convicted person shall not be essential at the hearing of further evidence.

[Section 327(3) substituted by section 45(b) of Act No. 105 of 1997]


(a) The court shall assess the value of the further evidence and advise the President whether, and to what extent, such evidence affects the conviction in question.
(b) The court shall not, as part of the proceedings of the court, announce its finding as to the further evidence or the effect thereof on the conviction in question.

[Section 327(4) substituted by section 45(b) of Act No. 105 of 1997]


(5) The court shall be constituted as it was when the conviction occurred or, if it cannot be so constituted, the judge-president or, as the case may be, the senior regional magistrate or magistrate of the court in question, shall direct how the court shall be constituted.


(a) The State President may, upon consideration of the finding or advice of the court under subsection (4)—
(i) direct that the conviction in question be expunged from all official records by way of endorsement on such records, and the effect of such a direction and endorsement shall be that the person concerned be given a free pardon as if the conviction in question had never occurred; or
(ii) substitute for the conviction in question a conviction of lesser gravity and substitute for the punishment imposed for such conviction any other punishment provided by law.
(iii) [Section 327(6)(a)(iii) deleted by section 45(c) of Act No. 105 of 1997]
(b) The State President shall direct the Minister to advise the person concerned in writing of any decision taken under paragraph (a), other than a decision taken under subparagraph (iii) of that paragraph, and to publish a notice in the Gazette in which such decision, other than a decision taken under the said subparagraph (iii), is set out.


(7) No appeal, review or other proceedings of whatever nature shall lie in respect of—
(a) a refusal by the Minister to issue a direction under subsection (1) or by the State President to act upon the finding or advice of the court under subsection (4)(a); or

[Section 327(7)(a) substituted by section 16(b) of Act No. 107 of 1990]

(b) any aspect of the proceedings, finding or advice of the court under this section.