Original Articles

Discourse structure in a criminal trial of a magistrate's court

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 19, issue 1, 1999 , pages: 30–38
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.1999.10587379
Author(s): R.H. MoeketsiDepartment of African Languages, Republic of South Africa


Verbal interaction in the courtroom is prescribed and protected by law. It consists of questions and answers in a rigid and pre-determined pattern. Legal professionals ask the questions and the lay-defendant and witness provide the answers. These roles are not interchangeable. The questioner even determines the type of answer, and failure to provide it may lead to a charge of contempt of court.

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