Media24 makes legal move on signal jamming in Parliament

2015-02-12 19:00

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Cape Town – Moments before President Jacob Zuma made his State of the Nation address, Media24 took legal action to stop cellphone jamming in the chamber on Thursday.

Willem de Klerk acting for Media24 issued a written notice to the Parliamentary spokesperson Luzoko Jacobs minutes before the president stepped on to the podium.

In it he said: “I confirm that we act for Media 24 and various of its publications including News24; Netwerk24; City Press; Beeld and Rapport.

“Our clients inform us that the cellular signal in parliament has been blocked. Our clients inform us that their reporters present and covering President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address in parliament this evening, scheduled to commence at 19:00, are consequently unable to send and receive information through the network during the President’s address.

“During my discussion with Mr Jacobs he was not willing to discuss the matter and referred me to the head of legal services. Ms Adhikarie advised that she was not aware of any such block on the network, but undertook to make enquiries and revert to me urgently. She called me back a few minutes later, advising that the head of ICT is not aware of any such block. She also advised that a person was sent into the chamber and reported back that the signal appears to be working.

“I urged Ms Adhikarie to urgently communicate with the press present in parliament since our instructions are that there indeed is a problem with the network.

“Please note that should the cellular signal indeed be blocked, and should this be as a result of a deliberate act, we are instructed to demand, as we hereby do, that the signal immediately be restored. Our clients contend that any such block will be unlawful and a fundamental invasion of the media’s right to freedom of expression and the duty to keep the nation informed of Parliamentary proceedings. We note that the South African Editor’s Forum (SANEF) has already issued a statement in this regard.”

Sanef executive Director Mathatha Tsedu stated that “This disrupts the functioning of the media particularly as journalists are filing using cellphone signal for digital platforms, sending pictures back to their main offices and updating Facebook and Twitter accounts for various publications.”

DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen opened proceedings of the State of the Nation when he asked the Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete for the cellphone signal jammers be switched off and members of the media be able to do their job.

As he sat down other MPs followed his call and urged Mbete to follow up the matter.

Read more on:    media24  |  cape town  |  parliament 2015
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