Johannesburg - Editors have welcomed a ruling by the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday on broadcasting of the murder trial of paralympian Oscar Pistorius.
The SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) said the judgment would go a long way in entrenching an open, democratic society envisaged in the Constitution.
Justice would be seen to be done, deputy chairman Makhudu Sefara said in a statement.
Judge Dunstan Mlambo gave the nod for full audio and partial television broadcasts of the trial. He ruled that MultiChoice and Primedia be allowed to broadcast live transmissions and delayed extracts of the trial that begins next week.
The application to broadcast proceedings was brought by e-News Channel Africa, joined by media houses MultiChoice and Eyewitness News (EWN).
Sefara said Sanef believed Mlambo tried to balance the right of freedom of expression with Pistorius's right to a fair trial.
“Given the massive public interest in the case, we believe increased numbers of people in South Africa and around the globe will get an opportunity, though limited, to hear, form and express their opinions on issues related to the case based on facts,” Sefara said.
MultiChoice head of content Aletta Alberts welcomed the ruling in a statement on Tuesday.
“It is a landmark moment for television setting an international precedent for coverage of high public interest trials. It is testimony to our robust democracy and we are delighted that Africans are leading the way.”
Executive editor of DSTV's Oscar Pistorius Trial Channel, George Mazarakis, said: “I am thrilled the SA judiciary has matured to this ground breaking decision. It is a seminal moment.”
EWN editor-in-chief Katy Katopodis described the judgment as ground breaking.
“It's a great victory for open justice, freedom of expression and media freedom. The judge clearly sought to embrace the media and the way our industry has evolved over the years.”
Pistorius is accused of killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on February 14 last year. His trial is to be heard in the High Court in Pretoria from March 3 to 20.