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.