Sanef members turn their backs on Carl Niehaus outside court as Zuma vs Downer, Maughan case is heard

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
  • Members of the SA National Editors' Forum held a peaceful picket outside the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg.
  • The group was approached by Zuma supporter Carl Niehaus, who attempted to tell them about the constitutionality around the former president's private prosecution.
  • But Sanef told him they were not concerned with his thoughts on the matter and turned their backs on him.

Members of the SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) turned their backs on ardent Jacob Zuma supporter, Carl Niehaus, when they protested against Zuma's private prosecution of News24 legal journalist, Karyn Maughan.

A group of about 40 people, led by Sanef, showed support for media freedom, saying that the case against Maughan was a blatant attack from Zuma.

As they gathered across the road from the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg, Niehaus approached them and said there were constitutional considerations in Zuma's private prosecution against Maughan and senior State advocate, Billy Downer.

READ | Court hears Zuma 'fabricated evidence', revived NPA plot claims in case against Maughan, Downer

"Media freedom has got nothing to do with this case. You don't understand the Constitution," Niehaus said.

A swift rebuttal came from Sanef executive director Reggy Moalusi: "Carl, it (media freedom) has everything to do with it."

Moalusi told Niehaus not to speak to the group in a condescending manner.

Moalusi continued: 

Engage with us on media freedom. Don't say we don't understand the Constitution. You don't want us to trade insults. You can trade insults, but we are not going to stoop to that level.

Moalusi asked Niehaus to apologise and when he refused, the Sanef members turned their backs on him. He left shortly thereafter.

Following the incident, Moalusi said the group was at the court to picket and support Maughan.

"He came to us to try to teach us about the Constitution. It was insulting and condescending and I was not having any of that. He must know his place. We are here to support our colleague."

Moalusi added that the private prosecution was an intimidation tactic from Zuma.

News24 assistant editor Pieter du Toit addressed the crowd, saying that it was an important day for media freedom.

"We act in the public interest. You do this for our reading public. Journalism is not a crime and we will not be silenced. It is important to tell the SA public what is happening in the country.

"We are resisting Zuma in court as much as we can. We will not pull Karyn off the story. Let's stand up and stand together and resist any attack on media freedom."

Maughan herself showed appreciation for the group.

"It is a hard job being a journalist, particularly a female journalist. We find ourselves being targeted in extremely misogynistic, abusive, and sexist ways. That takes a huge toll on us.

"I knew it was going to be a hard day, with things said intended to damage and hurt, not just me, but other journalists. With you standing behind me, I feel a lot stronger."

The court is hearing applications from Maughan and Downer to have Zuma's private prosecution thrown out of court.

Maughan outlined three core reasons, including the fact that Zuma did not obtain a nolle prosequi certificate against her.

A nolle prosequi certificate is a document that states the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) does not intend to prosecute someone – a requirement for a private prosecution.

Maughan also contends that Zuma is abusing the court process to intimidate, harass and bully her to prevent her from reporting on Zuma's corruption case.

She says Zuma did not suffer any injury as a result of her published piece and therefore doesn't have any legal standing.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Show Comments ()
Voting Booth
Many companies are asking employees to return to office full time after years of remote/hybrid settings. What are your thoughts?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
I can't wait to be back!
19% - 379 votes
No thanks, remote work is the future
22% - 441 votes
Hybrid is the best option to keep everyone happy
59% - 1161 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.