Editors calls for protection of journalists' court rights
Publish date: 20 January 2020
Issue Number: 856
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: South Africa
The National Editors' Forum (Sanef) has called on Justice Minister Ronald Lamola to urge his counterparts in the security cluster to ensure that state organs protect journalists' rights. The statement comes after a SAPS officer allegedly barred journalists from using electronic devices, including laptops and cameras, inside the Durban Commercial Crimes Court during the appearance of former eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede last week, reports News24. According to Sanef, the presiding magistrate had made no order barring journalists from using electronic devices. 'The prevention of journalists from covering court proceedings infringes on the right of freedom of expression enshrined in section 16 of our Constitution,' Sanef said. Sanef said it had been engaging the Magistrates' Commission since 2018 regarding difficulties faced by members of the media concerning access to Magistrate's Courts. 'It is due to inconsistent approaches by different magistrates to questions of the media gaining access to courts where, on some occasions, media representatives were permitted to be in court while on others, they were asked to leave court without a valid reason. Similarly, there were inconsistencies in dealing with requests to photograph, record or broadcast proceedings. In the spirit of ensuring that magistrates work with the media and that both sides respect each other, Sanef will table these issues before the relevant authorities, including the Judge President.'