Court to bar Terre’Blanche family and media from murder trial

2011-04-21 13:35

An order restricting the media from attending the Eugene Terre’Blanche murder trial next month will be granted by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria in the next few days.

The media and members of the family of the murdered Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) leader would only be allowed to follow proceedings in an adjoining room with a CCTV link to the court.

This was in order to protect the identity of one of the accused who was a minor, said Judge Joe Raulinga today.

Only 16 journalists and four of Terre’Blanche’s family members would be allocated seats in the CCTV room.

The other seats and standing places would be occupied by court officials and police officers.

Raulinga wanted to include in the order the names of family members to attend proceedings.

These, he said, must be submitted to him or the registrar of the high court as soon as the Terre’Blanche family attorney was instructed on who would be attending the trial.

“Once we have the names, one cannot replace the other. It should be the same people attending,” said Raulinga.

The 60-year-old white supremacist leader was bludgeoned to death allegedly by two of his farm workers, 28-year-old Chris Mahlangu and the minor who can not be named because of his age, in an apparent dispute over wages.

In April last year, Media 24, Independent Newspapers, the SA National Editors Forum and brought an application seeking authorisation for the public and media to attend the entire trial, while keeping the identity of the boy secret.

It emerged during court proceedings yesterday that there was some ambiguity and confusion because of the wording in the initial order.

As a result, the Media Monitoring Africa group, who made an application last week Thursday to have the order rescinded, understood it to mean that the media would only be removed from court when the 15-year-old minor started testifying.

Other applicants like Media 24 and Sanef had initially understood the order to mean that journalists would be present in court when in fact it would hear testimony from a CCTV room.

“The ambiguity is unfortunate. What that paragraph in the order meant was that every person will be in the CCTV room, not in court,” said Raulinga.
Other wording issues were pinpointed by the National Prosecuting Authority.

While the murder trial was scheduled from May 3 to May 13, this could be delayed should media houses decide to launch an urgent appeal against the amended order.

Raulinga welcomed the possibility of an appeal, saying it was an applicant’s constitutional right to do so.

“An appeal could mean a postponement to the trial – but the judgment in this matter will be ready by May 2,” he said before instructing counsel to submit the amended draft order to his chambers.

“If I’m happy with it, I will then issue it,” he said.

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