Media wins access to Nkandla hearings

2016-06-10 14:36
(Amanda Khoza, News24)

(Amanda Khoza, News24)

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Pietermartizburg - Denying the media access to the Nkandla disciplinary inquiry was wrong, Judge Piet Koen ruled in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday.

He upheld the applications by Media24, Times Media Group and the M&G to attend the inquiry.

"The media are duty bound to report with vigour, courage, integrity and responsibility on the Nkandla upgrades, including the disciplinary proceedings," said Koen.

He said the public nature of the Nkandla upgrade demanded that the public be given the full facts, in order to make informed choices, including whether or not the disciplinary hearings instigated against the employees are properly founded.

The disciplinary proceedings concern the alleged unlawful expenditure of public funds by public servants acting in a public sphere.

The employees are not simply ordinary employees in private context, possibly wasting the funds of the private employer, but state employees, said Koen.

They are likely advocates employed by the prosecuting authority or a magistrate which salaries are paid by the taxpayer.  Ultimately they are accountable to the tax payer and they must satisfy that they have not misappropriated funds.

One must however determine which right of the employees should prevail as well as the extent of the reasonable and justifiable fact in an open and democratic society. 

The employees' affidavits do no more than assert a generalised act of privacy and the right to fair labour practices and to dignity. Their allegations lacked detail and were unsubstantiated and accordingly without foundation.

The employees have not asserted that any portion of the proceedings against them is confidential, added Koen.

Twelve public servants face charges related to the R246m spent on upgrades to Zuma's private Nkandla homested in KwaZulu-Natal.

*This article has been updated



Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  nkandla upgrade  |  media

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