No TV Cameras to be Allowed in Shaik's Trial
Estelle Ellis, Jeremy Gordin
Durban - The evidence led during the Schabir Shaik trial will not be coming to a television near you.
And this, the presiding judge said, was "a small sacrifice" to make for a smooth trial "free of controversy".
In yesterday's judgment by Mr Justice Hilary Squires, he provisionally barred broadcaster e.tv from having their cameras in court filming the evidence of witnesses.
Judge Squires, to the amusement of some in court, indicated that he would have no objection to final argument being televised "if anyone else is still interested by then".
The attorney for e.tv, Dan Rosengarten, said his client was disappointed by the ruling because it had hoped its application would make legal history.
He said e.tv would consider an appeal to the Constitutional Court. "We think he (the judge) has left the door slightly open for radio".
For probably the last time in this trial a ruling went in favour of both Shaik and the prosecution.
"We are delighted," Shaik's brother Yunis said as he left the court.
"We are very happy," the spokesperson for the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions, Sipho Ngwema, said.
Apart from the legal objections to the request by e.tv, Judge Squires added that there was no space for a camera crew in the tiny courtroom.
"The operation would be visible and distracting ... With the best will in the world the camera crew will be noticed," he said.
Shaik's trial on two charges of corruption and a third of fraud is due to start today. Midi TV, which operates e.tv, hoped to make legal history by becoming the first television channel to broadcast a criminal trial in South Africa.
Its application, argued by advocate Gilbert Marcus, SC, was mainly based on the right to freedom of expression. It was opposed by both the prosecution, represented by advocate Guido Penzhorn, and Nirmal Singh, SC, counsel for Shaik.
"If it can be said that witnesses would be intimidated by the camera, the question of a fair trial can be put seriously," Judge Squires said in his judgment.
Judge Squires dismissed the application. But he said he would reconsider a request if all the difficulties he had mentioned could be solved.
Shaik's trial is due to begin this morning.
With acknowledgements to Estelle Ellis, Jeremy Gordin and the Cape Times.