Court dismisses broadcast bid

By Drum Digital
27 March 2013

The Vanderbijlpark Magistrate's Court dismissed an application on Wednesday by the SABC to broadcast the case of Carl Pistorius, brother of paralympian Oscar Pistorius.

Carl Pistorius is facing a culpable homicide charge after an accident in 2008 that led to the death of a 36-year-old woman.

Handing down judgment on the application, magistrate Buks du Plessis said the Constitutional Court earlier ruled that evidence in a trial should not be televised unless the presiding officer ruled otherwise.

"The court is thus going to refuse the application permission to broadcast proceedings in this matter," Du Plessis said.

"The court is however open to revisit this ruling in terms of judgment when the time comes."

Du Plessis added that media were allowed to take photographs and moving images when the proceedings were not ongoing. He said it was important to realise that Carl Pistorius was not a celebrity in his own right, but only because he was the paralympian's brother.

Oscar Pistorius was charged with the murder of his girlfriend, law graduate and model Reeva Steenkamp.

"This trial pertains to Mr Carl Pistorius not Mr Oscar Pistorius. This is what we are dealing with here," Du Plessis said.

"These proceedings must not be used or have an influence on any later proceeding against this accused's brother."

Carl Pistorius, 28, sat in the dock with his arms folded as the magistrate read his ruling. Du Plessis said it was important for the court not to get "dragged into the emotional hype" of the Oscar Pistorius case. He said the people involved in the trial were not actors and said it could be terrifying for a witness to testify knowing it would be broadcast internationally.

Earlier, advocate Joe Nalane, for the SA Broadcasting Corporation, said the case was in the public interest and that Carl Pistorius was a high profile person when he brought the application.

When asked if Oscar Pistorius's case had anything to do with the public interest aspect, Nalane said there had been interest before Steenkamp was shot.

"That unfortunate event enhanced the interest in this matter," Nalane said.

However prosecutor Johan Venter opposed the application, saying it was not in the public interest.

"This has nothing to do with public education. It is about sensationalism... What sells stories and advertising."

He said the matter should be dealt with like any other.

Pistorius family attorney Kenny Oldwage also opposed the application, saying he had been involved with the case from the onset and was not aware of media interest prior to Oscar Pistorius's case.

Broadcasting the case would impose on Carl's right to a fair trial, he said.

"It is common cause that he is here because he is the brother of Oscar."

Oldwage said the media interest in Oscar Pistorius's case made it difficult for the legal team to do its work.

Du Plessis said the accident happened on March 8, 2008. He said the case was called on September 12, 2012, October 23, 2012 and on February 21, 2013.

"I was the presiding officer on February 21 and there was no media present in court," said Du Plessis.

"The only reason the media is interested is because Mr Carl Pistorius is the brother of well-known athlete Oscar Pistorius."

Carl's appearance comes a day before Oscar Pistorius is expected to challenge the bail conditions the Pretoria Magistrate's Court imposed on him. The court granted Pistorius bail of R1 million on February 22 after he was charged with the murder of Steenkamp in his Pretoria home on February 14.

-by Sapa

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