Media blackout on document in Nxasana case
The high court in Pretoria on Monday ordered a media blackout on a document that had been due to feature in argument in a matter where civil society organisations effectively seek the reinstatement of former prosecutions head Mxolisi Nxasana.
Gauteng judge president Dunstan Mlambo ruled that the document “is sealed and not to be referred to in the media, publicised or in any way disseminated until after this matter has been done, has been heard”.
The order appeared to extend to references to the document in heads of argument before the court, affidavits that would normally be in the public domain, and also arguments heard in open court – even as television cameras rolled.
The document was to be part of a submission by the Centre for Defending Democratic Rule (CDDR), a recently formed organisation that is seeking admission to the case.
The CDDR has no history and is represented by Western Cape student leader and regular writer for The New Age newspaper Buyile Sangolekhaya Matiwane.
Representatives of Nxasana have argued the CDDR was formed specifically to intervene in the court case.
The Centre has also sought to put before the court an affidavit by a director of the State Security Agency (SSA).
In its heads of argument, the CDDR said its submission — including the sealed document, “appear to be a matter of public record” as they had featured in an abandoned inquiry into Nxasana’s fitness to hold office. Yet it declined to say where and how it had obtained the documents.
Nxasana’s advocate Michelle le Roux did not agree with the Centre.
“They say that these documents are in the public domain. They are not,” said Le Roux.
Le Roux also argued the documents were not relevant to the matter.
Nxasana was on Monday arguing for condonation that would allow him to feature in the case about it.
Civil society organisations, Corruption Watch, Freedom Under Law, and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, seek to have Nxasana’s 2015 departure from office set aside. Part of the argument to be heard is whether Nxasana jumped or was pushed, a matter on which he and President Jacob Zuma have disagreed in sworn statements.
The application is opposed by Zuma and the National Prosecuting Authority.
The case has been set down to run until Wednesday.