Cape Town, 17 February 2015 - Today’s application to the Western Cape High Court to prevent Parliament from jamming cellphone signals in future is a positive step to ensuring openness and freedom of speech in South Africa, says Dario Milo, partner at Webber Wentzel. The application was brought on behalf of Primedia Broadcasting, Media24, the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef), Right to Know and the Open Democracy Advice Centre.
“Following the events that took place during the State of the Nation Address last week, it was necessary to ensure that the scrambling of any telecommunication signals in the parliamentary chamber never occurs again,” says Milo. “These actions had a direct bearing on the media’s ability to function, not least because of contemporaneous reportage via Twitter. Freedom of speech is a foundation of our democracy and the media need to be able to report on developments without interference. It is important that Judge Steyn today recorded the undertaking by Parliament that signal jamming should never have happened and will not happen again. The other part of the case that will be heard next week is whether Parliament can be compelled to film disruptions. And then in due course, the issue to be determined is whether broadcasters can bring their own cameras into Parliament. "