Dagga case stalls over live stream bid

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - GOIT­SE­MANG TL­HABYE

FRUS­TRA­TION and costs mounted yes­ter­day for dagga cou­ple Ju­lian Sto­bbs and Myr­tle Clarke as their sec­ond at­tempt to be­gin court pro­ceed­ings into the le­gal­i­sa­tion of dagga stalled.

The trial was de­layed for a sec­ond day as pros­e­cu­tor Wil­liam Mukhare brought an ap­pli­ca­tion for leave to ap­peal Judge Nat­var­lal Ran­chod’s de­ci­sion to grant the cou­ple’s or­gan­i­sa­tion Fields of Green for All per­mis­sion to live-stream the pro­ceed­ings.

Judge Ran­chod had granted per­mis­sion to live- stream the pro­ceed­ings on Fri­day.

Mukhare, how­ever, ex­plained to the court that the de­ci­sion to give per­mis­sion ought not to have been granted as the or­gan­i­sa­tion was not a broad­caster or tra­di­tional me­dia.

He said un­like tra­di­tional me­dia, reg­u­lated and held ac­count­able by var­i­ous reg­u­la­tory bodies, the lat­ter was not and, as such, could not be held ac­count­able other than tak­ing more of the court’s time.

Mukhare said Fields of Green had no broad­cast­ing li­cence and may not be ob­jec­tive. Ad­di­tion­ally, he said the rea­sons be­hind the stream­ing, being for per­sonal in­ter­ests or com­mer­cial av­enues, could not be as­cer­tained.

He said: “They are a third party who are di­rectly linked to the case for being in pos­ses­sion and deal­ing in cannabis and as such or­di­nary rules gov­ern­ing the me­dia do not ap­ply to them.”

Ad­vo­cate Redge Wil­lis said the cou­ple had mis­in­formed the court about not mak­ing a profit from broad­cast­ing as the pro­duc­tion com­pany tasked to stream pro­ceed­ings had even of­fered to pro­vide footage for a fee to SABC and ANN7.

The de­fence said the rea­sons for the ob­jec­tions were not jus­ti­fied as the live feeds would not be edited, and with mod­ern tech­no­log­i­cal means any­one in the gallery could live-tweet pro­ceed­ings.

He said, if any­thing, the live stream would al­low for more ac­cu­rate re­port­ing of pro­ceed­ings rather than after-the-fact re­ports.

A re­quest for costs as­so­ci­ated with travel and ac­com­mo­da­tion for ex­perts flown in from abroad to tes­tify was re­served due to the de­lay in trial pro­ceed­ings.

The cou­ple, speak­ing out­side the court, said they were frus­trated with the de­lay in the trial as it was tak­ing a toll on them fi­nan­cially.

Clarke said she was scram­bling to change flight tick­ets for their ex­perts fol­low­ing the sec­ond day of de­lays.

She said it could cost them R10 000 just to change flight tick­ets.

She said: “We’re a small or­gan­i­sa­tion and these de­lays are re­ally cost­ing us a lot of money. It’s very stress­ful and we’re sim­ply at the mercy of the courts.

“They bla­tantly ac­cused us of of­fer­ing ANN7 and SABC footage for a fee. We don’t buy the me­dia, but we wouldn’t as it would dam­age our rep­u­ta­tions,” said Clarke.

Sto­bbs said they had no idea that ap­proach­ing the court for per­mis­sion to live stream would re­sult in so many de­lays.

Judge Ran­chod granted per­mis­sion for the stream for the sec­ond time, but pro­ceed­ings were post­poned to de­ter­mine the con­di­tions for the live stream.

“It’s not over till the fat lady sings as they now want to bring a pe­ti­tion to the Supreme Court of Ap­peal, be­cause they were de­nied the right to ap­peal here. We don’t care who does it as long as some­one does,” Sto­bbs said.

It’s not over till the fat lady sings…

PIC­TURES: OUPA MOKOENA

DAGGA IS GAGGA: Peo­ple op­posed to the use of dagga protest out­side the high court in Pre­to­ria yes­ter­day.

COSTS: Myr­tle Clarke and Ju­lian Sto­bbs were dis­mayed fol­low­ing fur­ther de­lays to the start of the trial over live stream­ing the pro­ceed­ings of their not for profit or­gan­i­sa­tion, Fields of Green for All.

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