Inquests Act, 1954
Act 59 of 1954
- Commenced on 12 November 1954
- [This is the version of this document at 1 December 1998.]
1. Short titleThis Act may be cited as the Inquests Act, 1954.
2. InterpretationIn this Act, unless the context otherwise requires—“chief” means any chief to whom authority is extended under the provisions of the Swazi Administration Act, No. 79 of 1950, or any person for the time being holding the office of chief;“coroner” means a senior regional secretary, regional secretary or cadet and includes a magistrate and any person appointed to act as coroner in terms of section 26;"crown counsel" means any professional assistant appointed to assist the Attorney-General;“magistrate’s court” means a court established under the Magistrates Courts Act, No. 66 of 1938;“medical practitioner” means any person registered or entitled to be registered or to practice as a medical practitioner in Swaziland in terms of the Medical and Dental Practitioner’s Act, No. 3 of 1970;“Minister” means the Prime Minister;“presiding officer” means any coroner holding or about to hold an inquest in terms of this Act.[Amended P.59/1961]
3. Duty to notify death
4. Duty of chiefs to report
5. Duty of member of the police forceA police officer on receiving a report in terms of section 3(1) or 4(1) or in any manner becoming aware of the death of any person who appears to have come by his death other than from natural causes shall report forthwith to a police officer of the rank of corporal or upwards:Provided that if such officer holds the rank of corporal or upwards or if undue delay is likely to be caused by the submission of a report, such officer may take action under section 6.
6. Method of investigation
7. Duty of coroner
8. Power to order exhumationIf it appears to any coroner that the body of any person who has died in circumstances requiring the holding of an inquest thereon has been buried without examination by a medical practitioner, or if it appears to him that further medical examination is necessary, he may order the exhumation of such body for examination or further examination:Provided that such exhumation shall not be ordered in any case where in the opinion of the medical practitioner it would be injurious to public health or there is no reasonable probability of a satisfactory result being obtained thereby.[Amended P.59/1961]
9. Medical practitioner may dissect bodyA medical practitioner who is required to examine any body in terms of this Act may make such dissection of the body as he thinks necessary, and may make, or cause to be made, an examination of any of the internal organs of the body.
10. Offence to obstruct investigation or examinationAny person who prevents, obstructs or interferes with a coroner, a chief, a medical practitioner or a police officer in carrying out his powers and duties under this Act shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding one hundred emalangeni or in default of payment thereof imprisonment not exceeding six months, or both.[Amended P.59/1961]
11. Venue of inquests
12. Power to subpoena witnesses
13. Evidence to be taken on oath or by affidavit
14. Rules of evidence not to applyThe presiding officer shall not be bound by the rules of evidence which pertain to civil or criminal proceedings, but if any witness objects to answer any question on the ground that it will tend to incriminate him, he shall not be required to answer such question nor be liable to any penalty for refusing to answer it.
15. Penalty for refusing to answer questionsSubject to section 14, any person lawfully required by the presiding officer to give evidence, who refuses to be sworn or, having been sworn, refuses to answer any question put to him, shall be liable to the penalties prescribed in section 200(1) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, No. 67 of 1938.[Amended P.59/1961]
16. False evidenceA person shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to the penalties prescribed by law for the crime of perjury if —
17. Evidence, how recordedThe evidence of every witness shall be taken down and recorded in the form of a deposition in the manner prescribed for preparatory examinations by the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, No. 67 of 1938.
18. Duty of presiding officer where crime disclosedIf before or at the termination of an inquest the presiding officer is of opinion that the death of the deceased was caused by an act or omission which amounts to a criminal offence by some known person or persons he shall cause such person or persons to be arrested or summoned, or take such other steps as may be necessary, in order that criminal proceedings may be instituted; and in all such cases he shall forthwith terminate the inquest and record what action has been taken.
19. Transmission of record to Attorney-GeneralAt the conclusion of an inquest otherwise than in pursuance of section 18, the presiding officer shall record his opinion as to the cause of death, and any other matters relevant thereto, and forthwith transmit the original record to the Attorney-General or Crown Counsel.[Original Section 19 repealed by P.59/1961]
20. Powers of Attorney-General
21. Witness fees and expensesEvery witness subpoenaed or appearing to give evidence at any inquest shall be entitled to receive such fees and expenses as he would be entitled to receive if he was a witness subpoenaed to give evidence at a criminal trial before a magistrate’s court in the region where the inquest is being held.
22. Mine accidents
23. Penalty where body is buried without authority and alternative verdicts
24. Saving of power of arrestThis Act shall not be construed as preventing any person authorised by law to issue warrants of arrest, or authorised to arrest offenders or supposed offenders, from acting in all respects as regards such warrants or such offenders (whether an inquest has or has not commenced) as if this Act had not been passed.
25. The Minister may prescribe fees for medical practitionersThe Minister may by notice in the Gazette prescribe the fees to be paid to medical practitioners not in the service of the Government who perform services for the purpose of this Act.
26. Special appointment of coronersNotwithstanding anything in this Act, the Minister may appoint any public officer to preside as Coroner at any inquest or series of inquests.[Added P.59/1961]
History of this document
01 December 1998 this version
12 November 1954