Media coverage in Van Breda murder trial (NDPP VS Media 24 and others)
The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Adv Michael Masutha has noted with appreciation the judgment in an appeal lodged by the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) at the SCA. This was an appeal against a judgment of the Western Cape High Court allowing media to cover the trial and take photographs before trial and during adjournments.
The SCA has 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 has been brought before it.
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, as well as the jurisprudence it sought to establish through this judgment.
The appeal by NPA sought to protect witnesses testifying in criminal matters so that they give evidence in a manner free from of the scrutiny that may be caused by a live broadcast of their testimony.
The courts are duty bound to consider each application carefully by upholding the decorum of the court and ensuring fair administration of justice.
Significantly, 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 favoring public access to court proceedings and the accused's right to a fair trial and ensuring that such fair trial rights are not prejudiced.
Source: Government of South Africa