Intermediary Services For Child Witnesses Testifying In South African Criminal Courts


  • Gert Jonker The Bethany House Trust
  • Rika Swanzen The Bethany House Trust


child witness, intermediary services, crimes against children


Efforts to reduce the trauma suffered by child witnesses in the South African adversarial criminal justice system are impaired by arguments that the prosecution of crimes cannot disregard the rights of the alleged perpetra­tor. Leading the testimony of a child witness is a highly specialised task, and the criminal prosecutor and defence council are not skilled in these methods. Intermediary services for the child witness in court is thus paramount to reduce undue mental stress experienced by the child witness before, during and after testifying. This paper highlights the fact that crime against children and the subsequent criminal proceedings where the child is required to testify as a witness occurs with sufficient frequently to warrant intermediary services to all child witnesses required to testify in South African criminal courts. Practical implications for practise are highlighted in order to improve the current intermediary process. The paper reflects on intermediary services rendered for 3,000 child witnesses in the Gauteng-West region and discusses experiences and challenges from the per­spective of both the child witness and the intermediary. The paper also provides supportive literature and a statistical overview of the work done by the Bethany House Trust, a NGO, in this regard.




How to Cite

Jonker, G. ., & Swanzen, R. (2009). Intermediary Services For Child Witnesses Testifying In South African Criminal Courts. Journal of Child and Youth Care Work, 22, 205–227. Retrieved from