The case against two e.tv journalists subpoenaed by police was postponed indefinitely in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday, pending mediation between e.tv lawyers, the SA National Editors’ Forum and the police.
The journalists had been subpoenaed by the police to give information on two suspected criminals they interviewed.
“It’s not about a simple matter of freedom of expression … I said to e.tv from the beginning, we don’t want your source, we want your criminals … and they didn’t give us their criminals,” said Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa in a radio interview earlier on Monday.
“Somebody must tell us what comes first — is it the safety of South Africans? We have a constitutional obligation … we think that freedom of expression in itself is not absolute and it can’t be absolute at the expense of safety and security in the country.”
News editor Ben Said and reporter Mpho Lakaje would not reveal the identity, addresses and contact details of the self-confessed criminals they interviewed. They would also not give prosecutors the unedited footage of the interview, aired on January 16.
Those interviewed had threatened to commit crimes against foreign fans during the Soccer World Cup. Said and Lakaje were subsequently served subpoenas under Section 205 of the Criminal Procedure Act to reveal their sources.
One of the suspected criminals had since been arrested and was also due to appear in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday. – Sapa