Decision on media at trial welcomed
JUSTICE and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha has welcomed a judgment made by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) on the appeal lodged by the State against Media24’s live streaming of the Henri van Breda murder trial.
The appeal was lodged by the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) against the judgment of the Western Cape High Court to allow the media to cover the trial, and take photographs before trial and during adjournments.
On Wednesday, the SCA ruled that a request to broadcast a criminal trial should be decided by the trial court on a case-by-case basis after a proper application had been brought before it.
Spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said: “The minister welcomes the balancing act demonstrated by the SCA in terms of a right to fair trial versus media freedom and the right to know.”
He said the appeal was sought to protect witnesses testifying in criminal matters, so that they may give evidence in a manner free from the scrutiny that may be caused by a live broadcast of their testimony.
“The court ruled that careful consideration must be given to the objection of an accused to the presence of cameras in the courtroom, striking a constitutionally appropriate balance between policies favouring public access to court proceedings and the accused’s right to a fair trial and ensuring that such fair trial rights are not prejudiced.”
Van Breda is accused of killing his parents, Martin and Teresa van Breda, and his brother Rudi van Breda at their De Zalze home two years ago.
At the start of the trial in April, Judge Siraj Desai ruled that video clips of proceedings may be broadcast, with an exception that Marli Van Breda’s testimony be recorded in written comments only. – Staff Reporter