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‘A victory for Media Freedom!’

todayJune 7, 2023 48

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Members of the media fraternity are celebrating the Pietermaritzburg High Court ruling, dismissing Jacob Zuma’s bid to privately prosecute State Advocate, Billy Downer, and News24 legal journalist, Karyn Maughan, as the necessary seal on media freedom in the country.
The matter was dismissed with costs earlier today. This means that Zuma will have to pay legal costs for all parties that were involved in the matter.
Zuma was accusing Downer of leaking his confidential medical records to Maughan.

The two have maintained that the documents were part of the public court record before they were published in the media.

Online news agency, News24, says the court’s decision has reinforced media freedom for journalists to report without fear.
Speaking to YNews – News24 Editor-In-Chief, Adriaan Basson, said he believes that Zuma was trying to intimidate Maughan.
While delivering the ruling, the Judge also took into account the submissions made by Maughan’s legal representatives on the abuse she had been subjected to on social media due to the former president’s court action. Among those cited to have abused her is the Jacob Zuma Foundation and the former president’s daughter Duduzile Zuma.

The former head of Journalism at Wits, Professor Franz Kruger, says the ruling sends a clear signal that the courts won’t tolerate abuse of court process in order to intimidate the media.

Professor Kruger says the private prosecution was a far-fetched attempt to derail the former president’s corruption trial and distract from the real issues.

The Jacob Zuma Foundation has on the other hand slammed the ruling as a travesty of justice.
They organisation says it will appeal the judgment.
Foundation Spokesperson, Mzwanele Manyi, says the organisation is appalled by the ruling.
He says the law is very clear in this matter, but the judge ruled something else.
“Section 41 of the NPA Act has been transgressed and we don’t understand know why the court has made such a judgment. And therefore his excellency Mr Zuma is going to appeal this judgment,” says Manyi.
Below are some reactions to the court ruling:

Written by: Nokwazi Qumbisa

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