Judgment has been reserved in the Supreme Court of Appeal in a case involving the protection of identities of children in the criminal justice system once they reach adulthood.
The Centre for Child Law initiated the case, which started when Zephany Nurse, who was 17 years and nine months old, was discovered by her biological parents and had learnt the media planned to identify her by the name she now goes by.
The centre argued that Zephany had been relatively fortunate, in that her anonymity had been largely protected by an interim court interdict, but the same could not be said for Marli van Breda.
Marli’s brother, Henri van Breda, was recently convicted for the murder of his family and left Marli with serious injuries.
“The need for ongoing protection, after a child turns 18, is highlighted by the examples of PN, DS and MO.
“These children were initially protected by section 154(3), but the media proceeded to reveal their identities as soon as they turned 18.
PN was 15 at the time he was charged with murdering Eugene Terre’Blanche. His trial was held in-camera and great efforts were made to protect his anonymity.
PN turned 18 the day before judgment. He was acquitted of murder, but the media proceeded to publish his name and photograph.
“Their experiences show that anonymity can allow child victims, witnesses and offenders the opportunity to overcome trauma and live productive lives,” the centre argued.