8 February 2013
A magistrate in Swaziland has come to the defence of journalists after they were denied access to court documents.
In a Times of Swaziland news article published on Thursday, 7 February 2013, an unnamed journalist reported that “Magistrate Dumisani Mazibuko came to the rescue of journalists when he openly reprimanded a court clerk for refusing scribes access to charge sheets”.
The report quotes Magistrate Mazibuko: “As long as court proceedings are not disrupted, journalists are entitled to charge sheets which they have to get while still in court for accuracy in all stories they are writing.”
The incident occurred at the Manzini courthouse on Wednesday, 6 February 2013.
The Swaziland chapter of Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Swaziland) notes that despite freedom of speech facing severe challenges in the country, such as endemic censorship and stringent state controls on the media, this small act by a member of the judiciary offers hope. It also demonstrates that media freedom is more than words in a Constitution, it is the unwavering insistence that journalists and the public at large have a right to public information.
MISA-Swaziland appeals to the whole judiciary to emulate magistrate Mazibuko.
For comments or queries, please contact:
Vuyisile Hlatshwayo, MISA-Swaziland National Director