NPA wants Pistorius trial live on TV

2014-02-18 12:41
Oscar Pistorius (Picture: AFP)

Oscar Pistorius (Picture: AFP)

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Cape Town - The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) wants Oscar Pistorius's murder trial to be watched worldwide live on television, saying it will show the world how, and that, South Africa's justice system works.

Pistorius's lawyers, however, oppose the live broadcast of his case which begins on 3 March 2014, saying it will compromise his rights to a fair trial.

Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day, 14 February 2013. The State has accused the Paralympic athlete dubbed "The Bladerunner" of premeditated murder.

Massive worldwide media attention has seen multiple lawyers representing multiple international and local media outlets requesting live television coverage of the trial.

Dedicated TV channel

MultiChoice will be running a dedicated Oscar Pistorius Trial TV channel on DStv on channel 199 from 2 March, with documentaries packaged by Combined Artists, which is also responsible for the investigative news show Carte Blanche on M-Net. DStv will broadcast the trial live on the channel if the court allows TV cameras to film proceedings inside.

A court decision whether or not to allow cameras in the form of a live or delayed televised feed could be made this week. The North Gauteng Judge President's office began deliberating on Friday whether to allow the application to broadcast the murder trial.

"We felt that to some extent it is an opportunity to educate the public. The majority of people in this country only hear about what happens in court through print media and electronic media. This is an opportunity for them to see live the trial from inception to the end,” NPA spokesperson Nathi Mncube said.

"They might have seen bits and pieces of a trial where they see the judgment or the sentencing, but this is an opportunity to show the public from the very onset of a trial.

Concerns

"We are very concerned of course that we don't want to compromise the trial itself in the sense that it becomes unfair to the accused, but also, to the witnesses," said Mncube.

"Some of the witnesses might not want to testify with cameras rolling. Or just the knowledge that they're being watched throughout the world might be an intimidating factor for them.

"We agreed to say we'll agree to this, but there are certain conditions that we would like to attach to this arrangement in the event that the court decides to grant this order."

If televised live or delayed, the Oscar Pistorius murder trial will "be the very first one where you can actually see from the very first witness to the last one, and also see the defence, right up to the point where the verdict is delivered and sentencing - if there is. So that has not happened before," said Mncube.

"We get the opportunity to teach because part of our responsibility as the NPA is to ensure that people can see that the justice system in South Africa works, and that it works efficiently, contrary to many beliefs locally and internationally. We want to dispel the notion that South Africa's justice system doesn't function," he said.

Read more on:    npa  |  dstv  |  reeva steenkamp  |  oscar pistorius  |  media  |  pistorius trial
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