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Polity
Published: 06 Apr 2017
Media 24 Limited v National Director of Public Prosecutions and Others, In re: S v Van Breda (5027/2017) [2017] ZAWCHC 35
[1] Time constraints, regrettably, do not permit me to give this matter greater consideration.

[2] The application came before me as one of urgency on Friday, 24 March 2017. The much publicised trial to which it relates was scheduled to start on Monday, 27 March 2017.

[3] Mr H Epstein SC, appearing for the First Respondent, quite correctly, raised the issue of the Applicant creating its own urgency herein. The implied assertion being that this Court should not entertain the application.

[4] Several weeks prior to the launch of this application I received a flurry of letters from divers journalists and the Applicant requesting permission to do visual and audio recordings at the trial. These letters were forwarded by my Registrar to the various Counsel involved in the trial and their responses were in turn forwarded to the journalists. This took some time and, it appears, there was some uncertainty as to the next step until this application was launched.

[5] In these circumstances I exercised my discretion in favour of the Applicant and elected to entertain the matter, especially in that the principal issue raised herein relates to fundamental Constitutional Rights which may warrant enforcement.

[6] After hearing Counsel I granted the order which is annexed. No reasons for the decision were furnished at that stage. As Counsel for the First and Second Respondents had indicated that they wished to appeal my Order, I furnish these reasons urgently as I do not wish to delay the trial any further. It is scheduled to recommence on 24 April2017.

[7] The Second Respondent stands accused of a number of murders of members of his family, allegedly committed at their home on a golf estate near Stellenbosch in the Cape.

[8] A survivor of the attack, one Marli, is in a vulnerable position because of the injuries sustained by her. Her curatrix, Ms L Buikman SC, was cited in these proceedings and the views of Ms Buikman have been taken into account in the order made by me.

[9] The Applicant describes itself as a publisher and "purveyor of news to the general public". Its media enterprise includes internet news and several newspapers and magazines.

[10] Its case to install two video cameras in the Court and record the proceedings, and other related relief, was essentially premised upon Section 16 of the Constitution and, perhaps less strenuously, upon Section 9 of the Supreme Court Act. Section 16 of the Constitution asserts the right to freedom of expression, which includes both the freedom of the press and other media, and the freedom to receive or impart information and ideas. These freedoms constitute central pillars of the democratic state and help to ensure its proper functioning. As frequently stated, they are a guarantor of democracy.

[11] The Applicant contends that the alleged murders have received a great deal of publicity and there is an acute public interest in the matter both locally and elsewhere. The public, they argue, is aware of the matter and interested in the administration of justice, the trial and its outcome. Though Counsel for the Respondents have sought to draw a distinction between this and other recent high profile criminal trials, they are unable to rebut this aspect of the Applicant's case.