Electoral Court says “no comment”: DA must retract SMS saying Zuma ‘stole’

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By Dario Milo and Ben Winks

On the very eve of democratic South Africa’s fifth general election, the Electoral Court delivered a landmark judgment on the rules of electoral engagement, setting a standard for the way political parties express themselves in future elections. The background to this decision, available here, is set out below. Continue reading

Was the High Court right to find that the DA’s SMS saying Zuma ‘stole’ was fair comment?

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By Dario Milo and Ben Winks

Last Friday, 4 April 2014, the Johannesburg High Court ruled that it was ‘fair comment’ for the Democratic Alliance (DA) to label President Zuma a thief in a bulk SMS sent to over 1.5 million recipients last month. The judgment raises important questions about the boundaries of free speech in a democratic society. Continue reading

Broadcasting the Oscar Pistorius criminal trial

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In the past weeks, hundreds of thousands of people around the world have been able to hear and see on television, radio and the Internet the evidence being led in the criminal trial of Oscar Pistorius. Pistorius stands accused of murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine’s morning last year. He also faces three charges of offences under the Firearms Control Act 60 of 2000 for allegedly discharging a firearm in a public place (relating to the incidents at Tasha’s and the sunroof shooting) and the alleged possession of ammunition that he was, so the state argues, not properly licensed to possess. The case kicks off again next week Monday for the defence to lead its evidence (with Oscar widely expected to give evidence), after being postponed due to the illness of one of the assessors. Continue reading

Diagrammatical summary of Judge Masipa’s ruling on photographs of witnesses

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Judge Thokozile Masipa, ruled that no photographs of state witnesses who object to being televised may be published – either until the end of their evidence (if they are public figures) or until the end of the trial (if they are private figures). See my summary of the ruling here.

South Africa: Media Freedom, looking backward, looking forward

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This article appeared on Inforrm’s blog in January 2014.

Last year was a busy year for the media in South Africa. There have again been a number of court decisions that have given the media the breathing space it needs to function in our democracy. Continue reading