Dagga trial to be broadcast

The so-called dagga couple, Julian Stobbs and Myrtle Clarke are seen arriving outside the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria while anti dagga protestors protest in the background, 1 August 2017, the couple want marijuana to be legalised in South Africa the couple says the criminal prohibition of cannabis is irrational and wasteful, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

The state had filed an application for leave to appeal against the live streaming of the trial.

The “dagga couple” succeeded in getting the state’s appeal against the live streaming of the so-called “trial of the plant” dismissed at the High Court in Pretoria yesterday.

Krugersdorp residents Julian Stobbs and Myrtle Clarke, dubbed the dagga couple, are challenging seven government departments in court in a bid to get use of the plant legalised, after they were charged with possession and dealing in marijuana in 2010.

The state filed an application for leave to appeal against the live streaming of the trial by Fields of Green for All, a website linked to the couple, saying the broadcast could be edited and shown out of context.

State advocate William Mokhari argued that those publishing and broadcasting the trial needed to be regulated and registered as traditional media.

“This [Fields of Green] is a non-profit organisation and not media.

“It is not regulated and the accused, who are linked to them, are standing here and asking the court for rights to live stream to the public unregulated.

“That can’t be correct. South African courts have been conservative in allowing cameras in court.”

Judge Natvarlal Ranchod asked what the difference was between a media house broadcasting live and live streaming by a private organisation.

The state could not answer. The judge cited section 16 of the Bill of Rights, which allows for freedom of expression and the right to impart information before dismissing the appeal.

Stobbs told The Citizen that he viewed the application to appeal as a delaying tactic by the state, as his defence counsel had witnesses who had flown in from overseas.

“As a layman who has never been to the high court in my life, we are in day two and we haven’t put any of the witness experts anywhere near the stand.

“I think it’s some sort of delay tactic by the state. “I think they really don’t want this to happen.” – rorisangk@citizen.co.za




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