...By Joseph Benjamin for TDPel Media.
In the ongoing trial for the murder of soccer star Senzo Meyiwa, defence lawyers have objected to a request made by a State witness to impose a broadcast ban during her testimony.
The witness expressed concerns about her comfort and the potential impact on her career if her testimony is broadcasted live via audio or audiovisuals.
The defence lawyers argue that the request is unfounded and baseless, while the State prosecutor acknowledges the witness’s fears but suggests that journalists can be present in court to report on the proceedings without live broadcasting.
Witness’s Concerns and State Prosecutor’s Response
The witness, a public figure, conveyed her discomfort and apprehension regarding the live broadcast of her testimony.
She expressed fears of being ridiculed and criticized, particularly on social media, which she believes would unsettle her and hinder her from delivering her testimony effectively.
The State prosecutor, Advocate George Baloyi, acknowledged the witness’s concerns about her safety and the potential endangerment of her life if her evidence is perceived negatively by the public.
Baloyi noted that the witness does not object to journalists being present in court and reporting on her testimony.
Defence Lawyers Oppose the Request
The defence lawyers representing the five accused individuals in the trial deemed the witness’s request as flimsy and lacking a solid basis.
Advocate Charles Mnisi, representing accused 3, expressed surprise at the witness’s demand, arguing that her face is already known to the public.
He asserted that she should not be treated differently from other witnesses who appeared in court.
Mnisi urged the court to proceed with the trial in the same manner as before.
Witness’s Media Involvement and Lack of Prejudice
Advocate Zandile Mshololo, representing one of the accused, pointed out that the witness is not unfamiliar with media attention.
Mshololo highlighted that the witness has been vocal about the case on social media and has given interviews related to the matter.
Mshololo argued that there is no evidence to suggest that the witness has suffered prejudice by participating in the Netflix docuseries about Senzo Meyiwa.
Additionally, Mshololo mentioned that the witness has benefited financially from the documentary and has not previously requested limitations on the recording of her face.
Pending Ruling and Trial Resumption
The judge has yet to make a ruling on the witness’s request for a broadcast ban.
The State was expected to submit its heads of arguments on Monday, while the defence promised to file answering affidavits by Tuesday.
The trial is scheduled to resume on Wednesday, May 17.
While the witness expresses concerns about potential harm to her reputation and career, the defence argues that she should not receive special treatment, given her existing media involvement.
The State prosecutor acknowledges the witness’s worries but suggests an alternative solution that allows journalists to report on the proceedings without live broadcasting.
The pending ruling on the matter adds a layer of anticipation to the trial’s proceedings.
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