No special privilege for Pienaar murder accused, State argues

2017-04-20 19:48
Jacobus Oosthuizen waits for his case to be called in the Paarl Magistrate's Court. (Nadine Theron, Netwerk24)

Jacobus Oosthuizen waits for his case to be called in the Paarl Magistrate's Court. (Nadine Theron, Netwerk24)

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Cape Town - The State has argued that no special privilege should be extended to murder accused Jacobus Oosthuizen, who has launched an application to have the media barred from attending his bail proceedings in the Paarl Magistrates Court.

Prosecutor Nathan Johnson on Thursday argued that the application should not be allowed, dismissing it as an attempt by Oosthuizen, accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend, to protect himself from reputational damage.

“The community will label him as privileged,” Johnson told the court, arguing that it went against the concept of open justice.

Media24 and Independent Newspapers were the respondents in the matter.

Oosthuizen, 32, faces charges relating to the murder of Nicola Pienaar, car theft, stealing a petrol card, fraudulently using the card and fraudulently using four credit cards, the court previously heard.

He also faces an attempted murder charge because Pienaar's stomach had presumably been slashed before she was strangled. She had been pregnant.

Arthur Olson, for Oosthuizen, said his client was afraid of the media and his photo being taken before and after proceedings as allowed by the magistrate.

Witnesses Oosthuizen wanted to call for bail proceedings have also indicated that they were not inclined to testify under media scrutiny, Olson said.

He argued for his client’s right to a fair trial, despite the media being protected in terms of freedom of expression.

He suggested that journalists could listen to the tapes after his client had testified.

Should the media be allowed to attend proceedings, Olson said his client would support his bail application with an affidavit, rather than testify.

‘Absurd’

Johnson told the court that ordinary members of the public were not able to attend proceedings, and were dependent on the media to give them the information relayed in court.

Barring reporters from proceedings, as requested by the defence, would effectively exclude the public from what transpired in court, he argued.

There was no real risk to those called to the witness stand, Johnson added.

Johan Theron, for Media24, insisted the application itself was absurd, saying it would stand in the way of the public’s right to information of which the media was a conduit.

The matter was postponed to May 4 for a ruling.

Oosthuizen made his first court appearance in Paarl in February.

After his arrest in January, Oosthuizen is said to have led officers to his home in Paarl, where Pienaar's body was found buried under rubble.

He was nabbed in Port Elizabeth on January 21 after he was found driving Pienaar's car.

It was packed with clothes and other items.

Pienaar, 28, went missing on January 5.

Her mother reported her missing on January 8 and opened a case of motor vehicle theft, as the car her daughter used was registered in her name.

Read more on:    cape town  |  media  |  crime

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