Media argues for Terre'Blanche trial access

2010-11-22 14:10
Ventersdorp - The Eugene Terre'Blanche murder trial had a serious, compelling and profound public interest and closing it would undermine the principle of open justice, the Ventersdorp Magistrate's Court heard on Monday.

Acting on behalf of the media, Adrian Friedman argued that the Terre'Blanche killing sparked a public debate on race relations and raised the question of whether the crime was politically motivated.

He said speculation also linked the murder to the singing of the "Shoot the Boer" song by the ANC Youth League.

"This is no ordinary murder trial". Mr Terre’Blanche was no ordinary man," he said.

He proposed that the court permit 14 journalists to be present at the trial with conditions attached.

Two journalists would be from e.tv, two from Media24 and 10 whose publications are affiliated to the SA National Editors Forum.

The order states that the 14 reporters would not release the name of the child accused, and would be well-versed on criminal proceedings involving children.

The reporters would have to leave the court if the minor testifies, and taken to another room to watch the testimony on closed-circuit television.

The document makes clear that if it becomes apparent that the presence of the media impedes the child’s right to privacy and a fair trial, the court retains the power to direct them to leave the court room.

"The order we seek will not harm the minor’s rights," said Friedman.

"If the application is dismissed, the media will rely on the (National Prosecuting Authority) and sound bites from parties involved in the case."

This meant that the media could not assess the information available. Speculation could then undermine justice.

The case against the pair, Chris Mahlangu and the 15-year-old boy, was postponed to December 6 on Monday, and the media was not allowed to enter.

The right-wing leader was bludgeoned to death in April at his North West farmhouse.

Read more on:    eugene terre'blanche  |  mafikeng  |  media  |  et murder trial
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