News24

Judge to rule on ET trial media access

2010-12-02 08:05

Ventersdorp - Media groups will hear on Thursday whether they will be allowed access to the trial of the two accused of the murder of right-winger Eugene Terre'Blanche.

Media24, e.tv and the SA National Editors Forum lodged an application for court access because the trial was closed to the public as one of the accused was a minor.

Last week, argument was heard in the Ventersdorp Circuit Court and judgment was reserved by North Gauteng High Court Judge Joseph Raulinga.

Public interest


Acting on behalf of the media, advocate Steve Budlender argued that there was a compelling and profound public interest in the case and closing it would undermine the principle of open justice.

He said the killing of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) leader had sparked a public debate on race relations, raised questions of whether the crime was politically motivated, dealt with speculation of sodomy, and allegations that it was linked to the singing of the "Shoot the Boer" song by the ANC Youth League.

He contended that this was no ordinary murder trial and that Terre'Blanche was no ordinary man.

Budlender proposed that the court permit 14 journalists to be present at the trial with conditions attached, and stressed it would not harm the minor's rights to a fair trial.

Speculation

He submitted that if the application was unsuccessful, the media would rely on comments and soundbytes from the National Prosecuting Authority and legal representatives involved in the case which would lead to further speculation.

The minor's attorney Zola Majavu did not oppose the media's application saying it did not compromise his client's identity.

A late application for access to proceedings was also made by the AWB for the Terre'Blanche family and its leadership.

Chris Mahlangu, 28, and the 15-year-old youth allegedly bludgeoned Terre'Blanche to death at his farmhouse outside Ventersdorp in April.

Both were employees at the time and a wage dispute was believed to be the motive.

The trial was expected to get under way on December 6.