Judiciary upholds press freedom

The National Prosecuting Authority failed in its desperate bid to use apartheid-style tactics to muzzle the media, specifically the feisty weekly, Mail & Guardian, on Thursday night.

The National Prosecuting Authority failed in its desperate bid to use apartheid-style tactics to muzzle the media, specifically the feisty weekly, Mail & Guardian, on Thursday night.

This after the NPA initially succeeded in stopping a damning story about Jackie Selebi.

On Thursday night Judge Hilton Epstein ruled that the newspaper had the right, in the public interest, to publish its latest instalment on the scandal involving the national police commissioner.

The learned judge hit the nail on the head, thus striking a blow for press freedom and judicial freedom, which are key pillars of our democracy. He showed that our judiciary takes its freedom seriously and is determined to use it for the good of the public.

Judge Epstein rejected the NPA's spurious allegation that the newspaper's publication of its story, which gives credence to claims about Selebi's friendship with the criminal underworld, would hamper its own investigation.

This will hopefully send a strong message to the NPA and others who are increasingly showing a penchant for abusing court interdicts in order to gag the media.

Hopefully, this will also cause Vusi Pikoli, the national director of prosecutions, to rethink his bizarre suggestion that journalists "desist from running parallel investigations". Someone should remind him that investigation lies at the core of good journalism.

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