Perjury consists in the unlawful and intentional making of a false statement in the course of a judicial proceeding by a person who has taken the oath or made an affirmation before, or who has been admonished by, somebody competent to administer or accept the oath, affirmation or admonition.
There are six elements of the crime of perjury, namely:
1. The making of a declaration;
2. Which is false;
3. Under oath or in a form equivalent to an oath;
4. In the course of a juridical proceeding;
5. Unlawfulness and;
Perjury can only be committed when;
• The statement is false. The deponent must be aware that his statement is not the truth.
• Statement need not to be material. The statement can be in the form of verbal evidence. Since 1935 it is no longer necessary for the prosecution to allege or proof the materiality of the statement. .must have been administered by a person who is competent to administer the oath or in a form equivalent to an oath
• The statement must form part of a judicial proceeding. The judicial proceeding could either be in a criminal matter or civil matter.
• Court need not have jurisdiction. No decision could be found that perjury can only be committed before a court having jurisdiction. One can accept that if a false statement is made before a ‘tribunal’ which does not have the same powers of a court of law, no perjury is committed.
• On oath, affirmation or admonition. The deponent must be under oath or in a form equivalent to an oath.
• Unlawfulness: It is unlawful to make a false statement in the course of a judicial proceeding. The norm will be to prosecute witnesses who falsely testify to mislead the proceedings. When the accused has made a false statement in order to benefit him, but he is convicted on the original charge against him, he would not be charged for perjury. His conviction and sentence would generally deem to be sufficient punishment for the perjury itself.
• Intention: The deponent must have the intention in the form of mens rea to mislead the judicial proceeding by giving a false statement.