South Africa 26.2.2014 07:00 am

Media coverage will be subject to provisos

BALANCING ACT. Judge Dunstan Mlambo will allow limited television broadcasts during the trial of Oscar Pistorius in the North Gauteng High Court. Picture: Christine Vermooten.

BALANCING ACT. Judge Dunstan Mlambo will allow limited television broadcasts during the trial of Oscar Pistorius in the North Gauteng High Court. Picture: Christine Vermooten.

Oscar Pistorius’s “trial by media” was not in the interests of justice and had the potential to seriously undermine the court proceedings in his murder trial, a High Court judge has warned.

Judge President Dunstan Mlambo yesterday authorised MultiChoice and Primedia to broadcast audio recordings of the entire trial and televise most of IT, except the evidence of Pistorius and his witnesses. Three print media houses were also granted permission to put two “unobtrusive” stills cameras in court to take photos during proceedings.

Presiding Judge Thokozile Masipa will, however, retain the right to stop recordings, transmissions and photos if it impeded any witness’s right to privacy, dignity or Pistorius’s right to a fair trial.

Pistorius will go on trial in the North Gauteng High Court next week for the alleged Valentine’s Day murder of his girlfriend,

Reeva Steenkamp. The State alleges he committed premeditated murder after an argument with Steenkamp, but Pistorius insists he had mistaken his girlfriend for an intruder and that her death was a tragic accident.

Judge Mlambo said it was in the public interest that the trial be covered to ensure a greater number of people follow proceedings.

“The justice system is still perceived as treating the rich and famous with kid gloves while being harsh on the poor and
vulnerable. Enabling the larger South African society to follow first-hand the criminal proceedings, which involve a celebrity so to speak, will go a long way to dispelling these negative and unfounded perceptions,” he said.

Referring to media houses intention to establish 24-hour channels dedicated to the trial with legal experts and retired judges analysing proceedings, Judge Mlambo said there was only one court whose duty it was to analyse and pass judgment. “The so-called trial by media inclinations cannot be in the interests of justice as required in this matter and has the potential to seriously undermine the court proceedings,” he said.

 

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