Judgment expected on media blackout application in Meyiwa murder trial

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Judgment is expected at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Thursday on the partial media blackout application by the state on behalf of their next witness in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial.

Following the submission of heads of arguments and their subsequent presentations in court on Wednesday, the court took an early adjournment to allow the judge to prepare the judgment.

Next witness?

On Monday, the state brought an “informal” application through Advocate George Baloyi, who told the court that the next witness, who was in the house the night the former Orlando Pirates keeper was murdered, was unwilling to give testimony in court unless her demands were met.

The witness, whose request was unanimously opposed by the defense and media lawyer Dan Rosengarten, has asked the court to ban the live broadcast of her testimony and only allow journalist to sit in court and report on it.

The first ground for her demands was said to be for safety reasons. “Secondly, if they are carried live, that could put her under pressure and make her uncomfortable. She is not prepared to give evidence if her evidence is carried live,” explained Baloyi.

Rosengarten says if that is how the witness feels, she should just be subpoenaed. He has attacked the witness’ submission that cameras in court would make her uncomfortable, arguing that the witness was not camera-shy.

On Wednesday, Rosengarten argued the application to ban the live broadcast of the testimony by the state’s next now-much-anticipated witness in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial, is “based on a dream”.

Referring to a post the witness made in November 2021, Rosengarten says, she posted: “After work, I had a late afternoon nap and had a dream where we as a family had decided ukuthi (that) we don’t want any media present in court when we testify. Not even our voices should be heard angisho sinamanga so we don’t wanna waste any more of the people’s time since is guilty already in their eyes (sic).”

Rosengarten says this is the basis for the application to ban the live broadcast of this witness evidence in court.

“This application is brought about based on a dream,” claims Rosengarten.

Safety, privacy concerns

The lawyer, who is well-known for representing the media in various cases, including the Thabo Bester case, also claims that the witness cannot be taken seriously on safety and privacy concerns because she has made media statements on the subject.

He has referred to another social media post, in which the witness says she wants her day in court.

“It looks like one is never gonna get their day in court la coz people entrusted with this case have turned into a circus so I might as well say this here and now. It really pains me that this case doesn’t look like it will be solved anytime soon because South Africa believes opportunists and populists like this one, it pains me because it means the Meyiwa family will never get justice and it pains me because it means my family will forever live under this dark cloud, this one claimed he had an eyewitness uphi? He claimed he had proof that Kelly pulled the trigger and now he withdraws, he has had his 2 minutes of fame (sic),” reads the social media post in part.

Rosengarten has also told the court that the witness has failed to demonstrate how her safety would be prejudiced by her giving her evidence while it is being broadcast live because she had previously made media statements linking her to the case, was tweeting while the matter was on, and that the witness herself was not against her testimony being reported on, over and above that the matter was being heard in an open court.

“My lord, there is a picture of her standing at the lifts of the court (posted by the witness herself). These are just generalised points that she fears for herself but not why she fears for her life. We don’t know why the witness is scared. Has anyone phoned her and said if you say x, y, and z … we don’t have that information,” questions Rosengarten.

The judge will this morning rule on the matter.

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