/ 21 January 2010

Prosecuting authority tightens media policy

New National Director of Public Prosecutions Menzi Simelane has forbidden prosecutors to speak to the media without prior authorisation, his office said on Thursday.

“It comes from the head of the institution. He wants us to have more control over what gets communicated and how it gets communicated,” Simelane’s spokesperson, Bulelwa Makeke, said.

Makeke said the directive was relayed in an internal document and was effectively “immediately as an amendment to our current media policy”.

She added the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has had “many issues” as a result of prosecutors talking to the press, and was surprised the policy change was attracting criticism.

“If you have 3 000 employees and every one speaks to the media, how are you ever going to have control?

“We are not saying they cannot talk, they just have to have proper authorisation. If there is a case that is going to attract a lot of media attention, they can get authorisation beforehand. But there are always things you can and cannot say.”

Makeke said prosecutors now had to approach the directors of prosecution in their province for permission to respond to media enquiries.

Simelane became head of the NPA in December, a year after Vusi Pikoli was controversially fired from the post.

His appointment provoked an outcry, partly because of the severe criticism by the Ginwala Commission of his conduct in the Vusi Pikoli saga. — Sapa