South African newspaper harangued for photographic evidence

Cape Town- South Africa (PANA) -- The South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) has spoken out against a search warrant on Die Burger newspaper in Cape Town, as the authorities press for photographs in a high profile murder case being heard in the Cape High Court.
Five members of the vigilante group People against Gangsterism and Drugs (Pagad), including its national coordinator Abdus Salaam Ebrahim, are on trial charged with lynching gangster Rashaad Staggie.
The State alleges that Ebrahim led a group of several hundred supporters in an attack on Staggie's Salt River home in July 1996, and says photographic and video evidence obtained by the media at the scene of the murder are crucial to the case against the suspects.
Die Burger editor, Arrie Rossouw, said the paper had been approached by Viljoen and Bulelani Ngcuka, national director of public prosecutions to hand over photographs of the murder of Rashaad Staggie, a senior gang leader in Cape Town, 1996.
The newspaper has refused to cooperate with the authorities, saying it would fight the matter in court.
Cape High Court judge John Foxcroft has also ordered the state to issue a subpoena on former Cape Times photographer Benny Gool to hand over his pictures of the murder.
Gool has refused, stating that he would take his case to the Constitutional Court if necessary.
Sanef chairman Mathatha Tsedu said moves by the authorities to force newspapers and media organisations to hand over materials was a contravention of a Record of Understanding reached between Sanef and the Ministries of Justice and Safety and Security and the National Director of Public Prosecutions in February 1999.
He said it was also a contravention of the media freedom clauses in the constitution and a serious impediment for the media in its attempts to comply with its constitutional duty to uphold media freedom.

25 may 2001 10:08:00

xhtml CSS