Can media sit in on hearings?

2014-11-08 00:00

THE media will need to wait another two weeks until it learns whether it can sit in on the controversial Nkandla hearings.

And the Department of Public Works technocrats implicated in the R246 million splurge on President Jacob Zuma’s private residence in Nkandla claim they “never consented” to the media being present at “their hearings” and want Media 24 and Independent Newspapers to make a formal application to do so.

Eleven of the 12 employees implicated, through the Public Servants Association (PSA), yesterday asked through their lawyer Elco Geldenhuys for the matter to be postponed. The twelfth employee’s disciplinary hearing has already started.

In a letter addressed to the hearing, Geldenhuys asked for a postponement, threatening a review on any decision made by chairperson Advocate Nhlanhla Mfeka if they proceeded without the employees.

“The employees have never consented to the media being present at their hearings. For this reason it was agreed that the media would do a proper application [and this] would be served on the employees’ attorneys who would consider it and possibly draft opposing papers,” said Geldenhuys.

Media24 and Independent Newspapers are both demanding access.

The PSA has described their members as “innocent scapegoats”.

Mfeka granted the employees more time, attaching strict deadlines.

“They [the employees] will be required to submit individual affidavits by November 13 on whether or not they want the media to be present. Media24 and Independent Newspapers will be able to file replies by November 17 and the hearing, for decision, will be heard on November 19,” said Mfeka.

• jonathan.erasmus@witness.co.za

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