Formal Recognition Of Forensic Nursing In South Africa

Forensic nursing is not recognized as a specialty by the South African Nursing Council (SANC). Some courts also do not recognize forensic nurses as expert witnesses competent to testify knowledgeably on the findings of the medico-legal examination.

In some provinces this has however, been successfully challenged:

KwaZulu Natal – According to Shukumisa partners Justice and Women (JAW) and  Women and Men Against Child Abuse (WMACA), as well as nurses in the province, the KwaZulu-Natal courts do not recognize forensic nurses as experts at all and their testimonies are not accepted in court.

However, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health continues to train forensic nurses reports WMACA – which cannot employ such nurses at their Kidz Clinics – due to the courts’ refusal to accept their testimonies.

Gauteng – In parts of Gauteng and the Western Cape, forensic nurses were also not initiallyrecognized as experts by the courts. In Gauteng the provincial Department of Health, through consultation with the Department of Justice, fought for the recognition of forensic nurses and their testimonies are now accepted by the courts in Johannesburg.

However, WMACA notes that in Pretoria no facilities would appear to employ forensic nurses so it is unknown how the courts in this region would react to forensic nurses’ evidence.

Western Cape – Forensic nurses’ evidence has now become accepted by the Western Cape courts due to the efforts of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the provincial Department of Health.

Posted in The Law, Uncategorized Tagged with:
6 comments on “Formal Recognition Of Forensic Nursing In South Africa
  1. jacob mathibe says:

    It is sad that the nurses in this country still not been recognised by Judiciary but internationally acclaimed. That is why the nurses leave SouthAfrica for a better recognition and those people(judiciary) who refuse to recognise Nurses forget that in roral areas there are no docters or they only become available once or twice a month.

  2. Damaria says:

    The question then becomes, what are we going to do to get nurses recognised by the judiciary? Maybe the nursing council could look into the matter in partnership with other stakeholders?

  3. With such an increase in crime rate; perpetrators winning cases due to lack of evidence, the Department of Health and some unions like DENOSA need to persuade the South African Nursing Council to recognize Forensic Nursing as a formal specialty. Department of Justice also need to play a role in making sure that the evidence presented in court by forensic nurse is highly recognized.

  4. Edwin Matsunyane says:

    I personally find it very disturbing that SANC does not want to recognise forensic nursing, there is one year Advanced University Diploma in Forensic Nursing which is offered by a recognised institution in S.A (UNIVERSITY OF FREE STATE) they have been offering this course for almost 10 years now and they have been writing lot and lot of letters to SANC to recognise this course as a speciality, but its so hard for sanc to do that, what makes it worse they dont give valid reasons why dont they want to recognise it, is it a question of not taking issues like RAPE not seriously or what? I feel this has been discussed for so long,sanc will need give reasons why cant they act on this? Have they even know what a wonderful work that are nurses doing in these clinical medico legal centres( Thuthuzela), these guys are doing a very good job there.I THINK THE GOVERMENT WILL HAVE TO INTERVENE IN THIS ISSUE.

  5. BJ PULE says:

    It’s a shame that nurses could be subjected to this horrendous treatment. It’s dissappointing to continue training nurses in forensic field
    when their training cannot be recognised. Maybe our nursing council should be taking a leading role in prescribing the training
    standards for the course. Nurses are being urged by our national government to develop themselves in order to improve the quality of nursing care
    that they render. The conditions of service and the state of affairs of our public hospitals make it harder for us to render total uncompromised
    care, but we endure these hardships because of our devotion and commitment. I have been working in forensic wards for nealy twenty years
    but i cannot enrol at any institution to study forensic nursing because it’s not given due recognition.

  6. L Hyde says:

    I am a qualified ICU Nurse. Daily we encounter victims of violence. I am starting PhD and aim to change the current situation that forensic nursing is not a recognised as a speciality, even Legal Nurse Consultant can fill a role in crime prevention, and who is more exposed to the victim and the family than the nurse who is the first line of contact with evidence, and the victim.

    Any input can be email directly to me.