News24 journalist, Karyn Maughan has filed a counter application at the Pietermaritzburg High Court against former President Jacob Zuma.
Maughan wants the court to set aside the summons to privately prosecute her and she also wants the court to interdict Zuma from doing so.
This after Zuma initiated summons for a private prosecution against Maughan and state prosecutor, advocate Billy Downer for the alleged leaking of confidential medical information published by News24 last year.
The National Prosecuting Authority in the province has declined to prosecute Advocate Downer after a criminal charged was laid.
In Maughan’s application, she argues that Zuma’s summons are aimed at intimidating her and preventing her from doing her job as a journalist.
She also says she has suffered verbal abuse in the process.
The charges relate to News24’s publication of details of a letter written by Brigadier General Mcebisi Mdutywa from Military Health Services on Zuma’s medical condition, which were attached to court papers lodged at the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg, last year.
Zuma alleges that the release of the information and the publication thereof in the media were in contravention of the National Prosecuting Act.
Maughan, however says that the letter was part of court documents and was therefore on public record by the time the information was published in the media.
VIDEO: In September, Zuma filed papers for a private prosecution against Karyn Maughan and Adv. Billy Downer:
In June, the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) expressed outrage that Maughan, has also been cited as a respondent in the latest court papers filed by former president Jacob Zuma’s legal representatives.
SANEF says Maughan, as a journalist, previously wrote a story following a letter from Brigadier-General Mcebisi Mdutywa informing prison and prosecuting authorities about Zuma’s health status.
SANEF Executive Director, Reggie Moalusi says, “We would like to remind them that Karen Maughan is a journalist and the work that she was doing, she was doing so after she accessed documents that were public records. We find it ludicrous and we find it as a threat and intimidation towards media freedom. We are taking legal advice on this and we support News24 in whatever legal action that they desire to take.”