Audio footage broadcast of a teenage girl's gang rape contravened the Broadcasting Code, the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA (BCCSA) ruled on Thursday.
The footage, compiled by EyeWitness News (EWN) from a mobile phone, was aired during a Highveld Stereo news bulletin.
Part of the 10-minute-long footage contained the rapists' dialogue. The girl's voice was audible and may have enabled listeners to identify her.
EWN had warned sensitive viewers of the item's content.
However, in giving clues to the girl's identity the broadcaster had contravened the code, the BCCSA found.
The footage probably amounted to child pornography which could not be possessed or distributed under the Film and Publications Act.
This also applied to partial distribution, including individual distribution of the visuals or audio soundtrack.
“Since this aspect was not pursued during the hearing of this matter the tribunal will not spend further time on the question as to whether the respondent (EWN) was promoting the distribution of the mobile phone footage,” the tribunal's chairman Kobus van Rooyen said in his judgment.
Nevertheless, this possibility was mentioned as a guideline to other broadcasters.
“The mere mention of the availability of child pornography on mobile phones in a specific case might amount to the promotion of a crime,” he said.
As it had never before ruled on the indirect identification of sex crime victims the tribunal only reprimanded EWN for its contravention.
“However, such a contravention will, in future, probably lead to a stricter approach,” Van Rooyen said.
Seven people, including four minors, were arrested in Dobsonville, Soweto on April 17 in connection with the rape.
Charges against one of the men, aged 20, were dropped on Wednesday. Two others, aged 18 and 19, were released on bail of R1500 each by the Roodepoort Magistrate's Court.
Two of the minors appeared with them. A third minor was not in court because he was writing school exams.
The case against them was postponed until September 6.
A 13-year-old appeared in a separate courtroom. He was undergoing a month-long psychiatric evaluation to determine his criminal capacity. - Sapa