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Cape Town - The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) will oppose the legal bid by media houses to win access to the trial of Eugene Terre'Blanche's alleged killers, National Director of Public Prosecutions Menzi Simelane said on Tuesday.
He told reporters in Parliament there was no way around the fact that the politically fraught case would be heard in camera because one of the accused was a minor.
"One of the accused is a minor, so we then follow the normal laws on how to deal with cases with minors. Why prejudice this minor?
"The case will definitely be held in camera… It is a normal thing," he said after an NPA briefing to Parliament's portfolio committee on justice.
"I think they are exaggerating issues that were committed to the law because anyways you can't reveal the identity of the minor so it doesn't matter which court you apply to. It is a proven thing."
Accused tried together
Simelane was referring to an application by news groups Media 24, Independent Newspapers and the SA National Editors' Forum who were bringing an application seeking authorisation for the public and media to attend the entire trial, while keeping the identity of the 15-year-old suspect secret.
A lawyer acting for the media houses said the application would be heard at 09:00 on Wednesday before the bail application of the accused.
Simelane insisted that the two accused, who allegedly bludgeoned the leader of the AWB to death, must be tried together.
"We have to charge them together because it flows out of the same case, the same facts."
He said the 15-year-old accused in the case would have been tried in camera regardless of the new Child Justice Act, which came into effect at the beginning of the month.
"The only dimension that the Child Justice Act serves is that now we must also look at the specific interests of this minor more broadly than just the fact that it must be in camera."
Simelane said the NPA would have to take into account the high level of public interest in the case, which had stirred racial tension in Ventersdorp where Terre'Blanche was murdered on his farm.
"There has to be a process where, on a regular basis, there is feedback given. (For instance) at what stage the case is (at), what evidence is being led. So there has to be, I would imagine, regular briefings."
Simelane, who went to Ventersdorp after the murder, recently issued a directive that public prosecutors may not speak to the media without prior permission from the director of public prosecutions to whom they report.
Read more on: crime | npa | awb | eugene terre'blanche | menzi simelane