The Star has hailed a recent speech by Chief Justice Pius Langa, who underlined the importance ofÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â an independent media.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â "As the good judge reminded us, the proper functioning of the judiciary
and the media is vital for the well-being of the country and its
delicate democracy," the paper says.
All too often we forget the basic principles around which our world-renowned constitution is built, but every now and then someone stands up to remind us that our freedoms are fragile and our rights worth fighting for.
Such a reminder has come from Chief Justice Pius Langa, speaking to a seminar recently on the role of the judiciary and its relationship with the media.
He reminded his audience that both the judiciary and the media were peopled by men and women who were imperfect, but were trying the best they could to deliver justice to an imperfect world with imperfect instruments.
He urged the judiciary to jealously protect the media and its right to free expression – a right that is not for the media only, but a right for every single person. But he also cautioned that the media's right was not totally unfettered and unrestricted.
As the chief justice pointed out, both an independent judiciary and a free press are legs that stabilise the country's democracy, because both play a central role in keeping the government in check and holding it accountable in exercising its mighty powers.
The judiciary's duty is to uphold the rule of law and ensure that the government at all levels respects and promotes fundamental human rights. The duty of the media, on the other hand, is to inform the people about what has happened, or what should have happened; to keep a watchful eye not only on government, but all facets of society.
For example, it should ensure that business does not pollute the environment, that NGOs do not abuse the people they are supposed to be assisting, that sports administrators behave in a proper way for the good of sport, and so on.
As the good judge reminded us, the proper functioning of the judiciary and the media is vital for the well-being of the country and its delicate democracy.
If the media is hamstrung from doing its duty, information and opinion will be withheld from the people and they will be the poorer for it.