News24

Court hears battle over sources

2012-02-13 14:39

Johannesburg - A discovery application forcing the Mail and Guardian and a journalist to reveal their sources will be damaging to the public interest, the South Gauteng High Court heard on Monday.

Advocate Wim Trengove, for the newspaper and investigative reporter Adriaan Basson, said that without the guarantee of confidentiality sources would "dry up".

It was the function of the media to fulfil a "watchdog role" and "it is the purpose of this function to expose corruption, whether in the private sector or in government", Trengove argued.

Bosasa Operations lodged a complaint of defamation against Basson and the Mail and Guardian after the newspaper published a story alleging that the company had been awarded contracts through corruption and bribery.

It wanted Basson to disclose his sources for the story. He has refused to do so.

Public interest

Trengove said the confidentiality of sources should be compromised only where the public interest was better served by the revelation than the protection of sources.

However, this had not been proven in this matter.

"Investigative reporters, in particular, would be significantly less efficient if they could not rely on confidential sources," Trengove told the court.

The attempt to compel Basson and the Mail and Guardian to reveal the sources would impact on the constitutionally enshrined rights of freedom of expression and media freedom.

These included the right to receive and impart information and ideas, Trengove said.

As such, it was not for the media's own sake that confidentiality be maintained in the general course, but for the sake of the public interest.

Earlier, Bosasa's Advocate Jeremy Gauntlett contended that there were no exceptional circumstances for the article to be based on undisclosed sources.

Gauntlett described as "too glib" the sources' claim - to Basson - that they needed confidentiality as they feared for their jobs and physical safety.

The case continues.

Comments
  • ivan.coetzee2 - 2012-02-13 15:26

    Get the correct unit to investigate the claim made by Basson then try play silly buggers, I would stake my last ZAR on the fact that Bosasa are indeed guilty. Lawyers should stop trying to make a name for themselves at the expense of our rights and what is right!

  • davidrobertlewis - 2012-02-13 15:30

    And if you refuse to give an editor access to your sources, or you object to the insinuation of guilt by association, you get pilloried and told to f-off.

  • bheki.dingiswayo - 2012-02-13 15:45

    I think the issue that should be contested should be whether indeed the tender was obtained fraudently or not. I was surprised to learn that some of the function that were performed by inmate at lesser cost were outsourced. I see no reason whatsoever what prompted the Department of Correctional Services to outsource these services. The next one will be the supply of uniform.

  • Emile Josephs - 2012-02-13 15:52

    sargon- you are a true moron.

      Napolita - 2012-02-13 16:10

      Pardon me Emile, but I confidently feel Sargon would be more enlightened by words from you pointing out how moron he is. Simple naming calling will not do, don't you think?

  • Glyn - 2012-02-13 15:59

    Clearly Bosasa has a problem with the revelations/allegations! Why not just disprove them, embarrass the M&G!! Maybe they cannot do that for some obvious reason??

  • mike.clery - 2012-02-13 16:01

    Bosasa is STILL under investigation by the Hawks, after the SIU found that the company bribed prison officials. http://m.news24.com/news24/SouthAfrica/News/Report-Prison-was-boss-bribed-20110320 and http://www.citypress.co.za/SouthAfrica/News/Bosasa-scores-again-20120209

  • Glyn - 2012-02-13 16:06

    Maybe Trengrove and Gauntlett are just having fun? Nothing like a good bout of fun on centre court!

      mike.clery - 2012-02-13 16:14

      And making LOTS of money at the same time .....

  • Barefoot - 2012-02-13 16:29

    Mail and Guardian seems to be the best and more accurate when it comes to exposing such crimes, unlike some Sunday newspapers that does it and end up apologizing for 50% of their stories. just investigate the allegations if false then out the source.

  • Barefoot - 2012-02-13 16:30

    Mail and Guardian seems to be the best and more accurate when it comes to exposing such crimes, unlike some Sunday newspapers that does it and end up apologizing for 50% of their stories. just investigate the allegations if false then out the source.

  • Patsy - 2012-02-14 14:01

    B. S.!!! The Constitution cannot, MUST not be changed at the whim of just anybody.

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