South Africa's Debut into Broadcasting Criminal Trials – The Legal Arguments in Televising the Oscar Pistorius Trail

  • Alison Amanda James Advocate of the High Court of South Africa
Keywords: Oscar Pistorius; criminal trial; television broadcasting; constitutional rights; public interest; administration of justice; freedom of the press; fair trial

Abstract

The televising and/or any other form of broadcasting of judicial hearings and of criminal trials in particular is a controversial topic that has not only provoked debate and been argued about by academics, the media and the public for years, but continues to be argued about with few signs of abatement. Until recently South Africa had largely escaped becoming embroiled in this provocative topic, as the live broadcasting of criminal trials from South African courtrooms did not occur. The situation has changed, though, following the recent live televising of a full criminal trial – namely, the trial of South African Para-Olympic champion Oscar Pistorius. Given that this trial signalled South Africa's debut into the world of the live televising of criminal trial proceedings, the question is asked why exactly South Africa ventured into this contentious legal territory.
It must be emphasised that the intention of this contribution is solely to explore the court's consideration of the constitutional mandates and rights that were contained in both the application and the opposing arguments pertaining to the live broadcast the trial of Oscar Pistorius. This note will not attempt to examine or even approach the far greater question of whether criminal trials should be televised or not, a topic better left to future research.

 

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Published
2017-12-05
Section
Notes