NPA sides with court on media ban in Karabo case
Sensitive information in State affidavit could harm probe
THE National Prosecuting Authority has insisted that it stands with the courts in preventing the media from broadcasting or publishing evidence led during the bail application of the man accused of killing his girlfriend, Karabo Mokoena.
This comes after the Times Media Group filed an urgent application seeking the court to rescind an order it granted, barring the media from reporting on the bail application of Sandile Mantsoe.
Magistrate Carlo Labuschagne ordered that the media was allowed to report only on the judgment of the bail application.
Yesterday, the NPA was adamant that it won’t budge on its stance.
Spokesperson Phindi Mjonodwane said: “As the State, we stand by the court. The media brought an application to film… and the State and defence opposed it.”
Danie Schoeman, who was previously attached to the Magistrates’ Commission, said presiding officers handling matters were within their scope to decide whether the media was granted permission to cover court cases.
“Ultimately, it’s up to the magistrate whether he allows the media to report on cases,” he said.
“The presiding officer will decide whether the merits of the case can be reported on or not. But usually in South Africa, presiding officers do not have a problem with media coverage in cases.”
Labuschagne ruled that evidence led during Mantsoe’s bail application in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court may not be broadcast or published.
The application was brought by the NPA and Mantsoe’s legal representatives.
Labuschagne told the court on Friday that there would be two proceedings: the first one being the media application and the second the bail application.
“We will hear the application. I can’t tell you whether we will proceed with the application; maybe we can or maybe we have to remand it. I will try to do it as quickly as possible to not infringe on your rights,” Labuschagne said to Mantsoe.
Lindi NkosiThomas of the National Director of Public Prosecutions told the court that by agreement between both parties, the media access application would be postponed to June 23 for argument.
Mantsoe faces a charge of murder and defeating the ends of justice after Mokoena’s charred remains were found in the veld in Bramley, Joburg.
Mjonodwane previously spoke about the media blackout, saying it was not unusual.
“It’s not something out of the ordinary, and as much as we respect the media’s role to educate and inform the public, we should also guard against it tampering with the strength of the State’s case,” she said.
“The type of decision made by the presiding office was in agreement with us that there might be sensitive information contained in the State’s affidavit that might have a negative impact on the process of the investigations,” Mjonodwane said.
The matter was postponed to June 23.