Zuma taking journalist Maughan to court is attack on freedom of expression: Dr Daniels

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Associate professor of media studies at Wits University Dr Glenda Daniels says the former president Jacob Zuma’s decision to take journalist Karyn Maughan to court is a serious attack on freedom of expression in the country.

Today marks the 45th anniversary of Black Wednesday, which commemorates the day in 1977 when the apartheid regime silenced independent voices by closing a number of publications, including The World and Weekend World.

Dr Daniels, who is also the South African National Editors’ Forum Gauteng convenor, says Zuma is using delaying tactics to avoid prosecution.

“It’s sort of a test case and Zuma is using delaying tactics, it’s a revenge tactic as well. It’s definitely a space to watch, because it can happen to any other journalist.”

Dr Daniels speaks to SAfm’s First Take:

Earlier this month, Maughan appeared in a separate courtroom in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, for her application for urgent application to interdict former president Jacob Zuma from launching a private prosecution against her.

The private prosecution of Maughan and prosecutor Advocate Billy Downer were due to be heard in the same court.

Zuma laid a criminal charge in terms of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Act of the unauthorised disclosure of NPA documents in connection with the alleged leak of his confidential medical report.

The News24 legal team said it will approach the KwaZulu-Natal Judge President Isaac Madondo to have both matters heard together. Editor Adrian Basson said they will continue to fight for Maughan.

“So as News 24, we brought this urgent application to dismiss the prosecution of former president Jacob Zuma against Karyn Maughan. We believe that this is an absolute violation of court processes. He is trying to silence the journalist. We are asking the courts to do always with this matter before it starts”, said Basson.