Behave, Oscar Pistorius judge warns media

2014-03-04 11:12

The media was given a stern warning after a picture of witness Michelle Burger was apparently displayed in violation of a court order.

“I am warning the media, if you do not behave, you will not be treated with soft gloves,” said Judge Thokozile Masipa in the North Gauteng High Court.

She ordered that no photographers of witnesses may be used – no matter the source of the picture – if the witness had asked that photos not be used.

Masipa said an investigation would take place. “This might just be the tip of the iceberg,” she said.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel interrupted proceedings shortly after Michelle Burger started testifying this morning.

Nel said he had been told that Burger’s face was being shown on TV, despite her request that this should not happen.

Her image, a still photograph, appeared on eNCA.

But eNCA head of news Patrick Conroy said he believed the channel had not acted in contravention of a court order.

“We were not in violation of the court order, I must stress that,” Conroy said on eNCA.

The broadcaster earlier tweeted: “NOTE: We used a still picture from the University website – also carried in daily newspapers.”

The photograph has been taken down.

Afrikaans daily newspaper Beeld also used a picture of Burger today.

Editor Adriaan Basson tweeted that the paper had published the picture because the court order only prohibited the publication of pictures of the witness taken inside court.

Proceedings were stopped when the picture was shown on eNCA.

Masipa ordered the media to stop using any photographs of any sort that had been taken of a witness.

She said it did not matter where the picture came from if a witness had asked not to have their photograph published.

Masipa ordered an investigation into the extent of the noncompliance.

Nel said eNCA had asked the department of justice for permission to use the photo. The department said no, but it went ahead and used it.

It was made clear that this was a violation of the ruling that no photograph or video of the witness should be shown.

Last week, Judge Dunstan Mlambo gave the media permission to broadcast the trial with strict conditions. These included not photographing or publishing images of witnesses if they had made this request in advance.

» Watch/listen to the trial live on our homepage at Follow Charl du Plessis and Biénne Huisman’s coverage here. And on Twitter: @City_Press

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