Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) welcomes the decision to allow but limit media access in the Eugene Terre’blanche murder trial, in which one of the accused is a child. However other elements of Judge Joseph Raulinga’s ruling have given MMA serious cause for concern.
MMA Director William Bird said, “While we welcome the decision on the media, MMA is astonished by the order allowing access for four members of Eugene Terre’blanche’s family and sixteen members of the public, especially when the court received no application seeking family or public access. MMA is seriously concerned that facilitating public and family access will make it impossible to even ensure that the identity of the child is adequately protected”
The trial constitutes a “child justice court” under the terms of the new Child Justics Act that came into place in April. Under normal circumstances the law is quite clear that only those deemed necessary for the trial may be permitted access to the court, and this would exclude the media, members of the public, and members of a victims family from attending.
However in this particular case Media Monitoring Africa accepts that there is an exceptional public interest in reporting on this trial, and therefore that media should be permitted, though limited in order to protect the rights of the child. This was MMA’s position in its application as friend of the court on this issue of media access
MMA is therefore pleased with Judge Raulinga’s decision to facilitate limited media coverage, by restricting access to 14 named journalists and insisting that the child’s testimony shall only be watched via closed circuit television. However no direction appears to have been given on who will be responsible for providing and managing this camera link, and this is an important outstanding issue.
However family and public access appears to have undermined these efforts to strike a balance between the public interest in reporting this trial and protecting the rights of the child.
Read the court order
For more information contact:
Director and Ashoka Fellow,
Media Monitoring Africa
(formerly Media Monitoring Protect)
Cell: 082 8871370