Media groups will hear today whether they will be allowed access to the trial of the two accused of the murder of right-winger Eugene Terre’Blanche.
e.tv, Media24 and the SA National Editors’ Forum lodged an application for court access because the trial was closed to the public as one of the accused was a minor.
Last week, argument was heard in the Ventersdorp Circuit Court and judgment was reserved by Pretoria High Court Judge Joseph Raulinga.
Acting on behalf of the media, advocate Steve Budlender argued that there was a compelling and profound public interest in the case, and closing it would undermine the principle of open justice.
He said the killing of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) leader had sparked a public debate on race relations, raised questions on whether the crime was politically motivated, and sparked speculation of sodomy and allegations that the murder was linked to the singing of the “Shoot the Boer” song by the ANC Youth League.
He contended that this was no ordinary murder trial and that Terre’Blanche was no ordinary man.
Budlender proposed that the court permit 14 journalists to be present at the trial with conditions attached, and stressed it would not harm the minor’s rights to a fair trial.
He submitted that if the application was unsuccessful, the media would rely on comments and sound bites from the National Prosecuting Authority and legal representatives involved in the case. This would lead to further speculation.
The minor’s attorney, Zola Majavu, did not oppose the media’s application, saying it did not compromise his client’s identity.
A late application for access to proceedings was also made by the AWB for the Terre’Blanche family and its leadership.
Chris Mahlangu (28) and the 15-year-old allegedly bludgeoned Terre’Blanche to death at his farmhouse outside Ventersdorp in April.
Both were employees at the time and a wage dispute was believed to be the motive.
The trial was expected to get under way on December 6.