NPA: Media not at fault in Kotzé reporting

2012-01-13 16:01

Cape Town - Media houses had done nothing wrong in naming Johan Kotzé and publishing details of his alleged crime before his appearance in court, the National Prosecuting Authority said on Friday.

"The media naming him has not compromised the case for prosecution at all," said NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga.

"He had been a fugitive who the police were looking for," he said.

"The media naming him and publishing his photograph helped in identifying him."

Although there is no general law that prohibits the naming of a suspect before they have appeared in court, in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act a person who has been charged with indecency or extortion may not be named until they have pleaded.

A different matter

However, Mhaga said that when a person was running away "it changes the whole dimension".

"In this case, members of the community assisted the police in tracking him down," he said.

Kotzé appeared in the Modimolle Magistrate's Court on Friday for allegedly killing his teenaged stepson and orchestrating an attack on his estranged wife.

He and a 42-year-old co-accused face 17 charges, including murder, conspiracy to rape, rape, sexual assault, kidnapping and common assault.

A manhunt was launched for Kotzé when he fled in a white Toyota Fortuner after allegedly murdering his stepson at his home on January 4 and forcing three men at gunpoint to gang-rape his estranged wife.
Kotzé was arrested in the town on Wednesday.

"The media played a role in his arrest. So, in this case, naming was justifiable," said Mhaga.

Webber Wentzel media lawyer Okyerebea Ampofo-Anti said it was unclear whether the crimes of indecency or extortion would be applicable in Kotzé's case.

"In any event, he had not been charged with anything at the time that he was named because he was still on the run," she said.

In the public interest

Ampofo-Anti said that in a recent Supreme Court of Appeal case, an individual who had been identified as being involved in various criminal activities had sued a newspaper for defamation.

In this case, the court held that each case must be considered on its own merits to determine whether it was in the public interest for the suspect to be named.

"The court found that the publication was in the public interest because it encouraged the public to come forward with information to assist the police," Ampofo-Anti said.

"In view of the fact that Kotzé was a fugitive from justice who was being actively sought by the police, the media was not under any legal obligation to conceal his identity."

Ombudsman: Media must be careful

Mail & Guardian ombudsman Franz Kruger, who wrote the book Black, white and grey: journalism ethics in South Africa, said the specific circumstances around the Kotzé case had made it acceptable for his name to be published.

"The specific circumstance was that he was being sought," Kruger said.

"The police wanted to put out his identity so that they could apprehend him."

Kruger said that media houses had to be cautious in their wording when reporting on the case.

Journalists had to make it clear that Kotzé was still an accused who had not yet been found guilty.

Kruger said people were often identified in high profile cases, that people quickly assumed they were guilty and that not much could be done to prevent this.

"The media have to make it clear that he is simply an accused who may still be found guilty," he said.

"Media houses have to be cautious in their tone and wording in these cases.

"In reporting and headlining it must be clear that an accused has not yet been found guilty."

- SAPA

Read more on:    npa  |  johan kotze  |  polokwane  |  media
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
21 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Shilowa supports Vote No campaign

Former Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa has come out in support of the Vote No! Campaign launched recently by former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils and former deputy health minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, says a report.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Samsung Galaxy Tab P7500 10.1" Tablet With WiFi & 3G

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 gives you a better experience for...

From R4999.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be good at organising events but they do take their toll on your energy levels. You may need some time out today just to...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.