Publication: Independent Online Issued: Date: 2004-10-13 Reporter: Sapa

Row Over Media Access Cards for Shaik Trial



Independent Online

Date 2004-10-13



Web Link


There was a row between court officials and journalists who were barred from entering Schabir Shaik's fraud and corruption trial on Wednesday because security had been increased.

On Monday journalists had to apply for access cards to the Durban High Court, which were granted to two reporters per media organisation.

The tags were marked "The State vs Schabir Shaik" and were also worn by court officials and the public.

However, on Wednesday, court officials were putting blue hospital tags around journalists' wrists and putting their belongings through a security screening device.

They said that the number of hospital tags was equal to the number of seats available in the courtroom and that because members of the public got there first there were not enough to go around.

They said they had to introduce the additional measures because journalists earlier in the week took security tags from people in the courtroom and then gave them to colleagues outside, even if their company had two reporters inside already.

An SABC reporter who had been left outside on Wednesday told Sapa: "It's constitutionally wrong, you can't stop us, the rules can't just change overnight without you informing us."

Reporters were told the matter would only be resolved at the 11am tea break when National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Sipho Ngwema came out.

On Tuesday, Judge Hilary Squires ruled that cameras would not be allowed in the courtroom.

Shaik, Deputy President Jacob Zuma's financial adviser, faces two counts of corruption and one of fraud, stemming from his alleged bankrolling of Zuma in return for support for his business interests, and what the NPA says was a bribe to Zuma related to the country's multi-billion rand arms deal.

With acknowledgements to Sapa and Independent Online.