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NPA: Opposing Pistorius trial broadcast pointless

Jonisayi Maromo

The NPA says spending money on opposing a court application for live broadcasts of Oscar Pistorius's murder trial is futile.

The court heard an application by print media houses, eNCA, MultiChoice and Eyewitness News to broadcast the trial. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

Spending money on opposing a court application for live broadcasts of Oscar Pistorius's murder trial will be futile, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said on Wednesday.

The NPA initially had fears when eNCA sought to broadcast the proceedings, spokesperson Nathi Mncube told reporters outside the high court in Pretoria.

The court heard an application by print media houses, eNCA, MultiChoice and Eyewitness News to broadcast the trial, which starts on March 3.

However, the NPA's concerns were allayed by additional provisions brought by MultiChoice, Mncube said.

"We do not want our witnesses to be intimidated. We do not want them to be exposed if they don't want. All of that was addressed by the technology which MultiChoice brought and some concessions that were made.

"I don't know if it makes good sense to the public to say 'we want to [use] taxpayers' money to oppose the application of a person we as NPA are charging'. It doesn't make sense, we would rather focus on the criminal case we are pursuing."

Opposed
Responding to claims that Reeva Steenkamp's parents were opposed to the bid to broadcast the court proceedings, Mncube said the NPA's decision was in the interests of justice. 

"We are not here to look after just one witness. It's unfortunate that family is affected because it is their child who was killed. The people that are going to testify are not the family, but witnesses," he said.

"I think what the family wants is to see justice served. That is our focus as well. We appreciate that it might be sensitive for them, but in the bigger scheme of things, the public stands to benefit more by watching these proceedings broadcast if the court grants the order."

Barry Roux SC, for Pistorius, told the court earlier that Steenkamp's parents had not been informed about the NPA's agreeing to the live broadcast of the trial sought by the media.

A 24-hour TV channel dedicated to the upcoming trial would be launched on DStv a day before the star athlete goes on trial. The broadcasters proposed permission to use unmanned, remote-controlled high-definition cameras which would feed to all broadcasters, if the application was successful.

Judge Dunstan Mlambo reserved his judgment until Tuesday at 11am.

Pistorius is accused of killing Steenkamp, his girlfriend, in February last year. His trial is to be heard in the high court in Pretoria from March 3 to 20. – Sapa

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