Pretoria – Attempts by the legal team of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church leader Shepherd Bushiri to bar the media from taking pictures of him and his wife Mary during court proceedings has been denied by the court.
This after representatives of several media houses brought a formal application to have the bail proceedings broadcast live and streamed as well.
The state indicated they were uncomfortable with having their images taken during court as they feared for their safety as the matter was still a long way to go.
However, they added that they had no objection to having the audio being recorded.
Annalien van den Heever on behalf of Bushiri, his wife, and Landiwe Sindani, 37, another co-accused, said they too had no issues with the legal team being shown.
However, they had an issue with Bushiri’s pictures being taken in court by the media as it had not been done before, even with his previous matters.
They also requested that the court balance the individual’s right to privacy against that of the freedom of the press.
Speaking on behalf of three media groups, legal representative Dam Rosengarten said that the courts had to consider that the prophet and his wife were public figures.
That the country had immense interest currently in issues regarding fraud and corruption of high profile individuals.
And on top of the fact that the courts were in the public domain and were now even further restricted due to the Covid-19 regulations.
“The public should not be limited to second-hand reports from newspaper articles and social media sites only. As it is this matter has drawn a huge public interest as evidenced from the gathering outside court.”
In granting permission magistrate Thandi Theledi granted permission for pictures of the accused to be taken, concurring with the statement that the courts were the public domain.
She did, however, instruct that no images of the prosecution were allowed however the audio was permitted.
The trio is appearing in court for their alleged involvement in fraud and money laundering worth R102 million.