Publication: Business Day Date: 2004-10-26 Reporter: Chris van Gass

Their Lordships Enter the Age of Reality TV



Business Day

Date 2004-10-26


Chris van Gass

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Court television got its foot in the door yesterday when a full bench of the Cape High Court ruled that British businessman Mark Thatcher's court application could be televised by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

Thatcher's application is due to be heard today by the same judges Judge Deon van Zyl, Judge Essa Moosa and Judge Dan Dlodlo who granted the order.

Because this is a civil case, unlike in the unsuccessful application 10 days ago to televise the Schabir Shaik criminal trial, legal experts doubt whether it will set a precedent for criminal cases to be televised "at this stage".

Advocate Michael Donan, who argued for the state yesterday that the Thatcher proceedings should not be televised, said after the ruling that SA's courts had "entered the age of telly".

Van Zyl ordered yesterday that the SABC could be present throughout the Thatcher proceedings and record a daily package of edited highlights for delayed broadcast.

These broadcasts would be available for news bulletins, current affairs programmes, and news and public interest-related programmes.

Van Zyl said reasons for the decision would be given later. He said the court could suspend "at any time" the recording should it become "intrusive".

Dan Rosengarten,'s lawyer, said the judgment was a long time coming. "It is a step in right direction, but I don't see it as the age of television opening up in all our courts.

"There has been an order by the judges and we will have to await the judgment which will reflect on the reasons for the decision," Rosengarten said.

With acknowledgements to Chris van Gass and the Business Day.