Pretoria - Interruptions during Oscar Pistorius's murder trial will be eliminated if media are permitted to record proceedings, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Wednesday.
Frank Snyckers SC, for MultiChoice and Eyewitness News, submitted that the court should make provisions to cater for the media in the Pistorius case as it had garnered “unprecedented interest”.
“What we are proposing here would tame the circus. [If broadcast permission is granted], it won't be necessary for everyone wanting a piece of the action to be in court,” he said.
Snyckers said interest in the case was not only limited to the media but extended to women's rights groups and government departments representing women's rights.
MultiChoice and EWN are proposing to use unmanned, remote-controlled high-definition cameras that would provide feed to all broadcasters.
Snyckers said the media houses would use technologically advanced equipment controlled remotely to avoid an obtrusive presence during the trial.
He said the media houses had secured the National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA) support, and that the world's eyes would be on the criminal justice system, as they have been.
“Principles of open justice and the right to freedom of expression are part of the right to a fair trial,” he said.
“In fact, the trial judge can be given the means to deactivate the recording.”
Snyckers said granting permission to broadcast would ensure that all South Africans had access to the trial.
Pistorius is accused of killing his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in February last year. His trial is expected to be heard in the High Court in Pretoria from March 3 to 20.
Snyckers told the court that if granted permission to film the proceedings, MultiChoice would broadcast the full trial unedited. He said, however, “unconsenting witnesses” would not be filmed.
“What we are offering here is the truth and nothing but the truth,” he said.
The application to film the proceedings was brought by news channel eNCA.
It was joined in the application by MultiChoice and EWN. A 24-hour TV channel dedicated to the upcoming trial would be launched on DSTV on March 2, a day before the former star athlete goes on trial.
The NPA on Tuesday said it would not oppose the application. However, NPA spokesman Nathi Mncube said it did have a number of conditions. He would not say at the time what these were.
Pistorius's legal team is expected to oppose the media's application. - Sapa