The Pretoria High Court on Friday morning, interdicted the Mail & Guardian from publishing the details of an explosive final draft of an internal report into alleged corruption, abuse of power and intimidation at the South African Broadcasting Corporation, reports M&G Online
The judge granted an interim interdict against the M&G preventing the newspaper from printing its front-page lead. The interdict was brought by Barry Aaron & Associates on behalf of his client in a matter related to the SABC.
Barry Aaron & Associates was objecting to the publication of an article related to an internal audit report, which contains a long list of damning allegations, including financial irregularity, intimidation and violation of the Public Finance Management Act and SABC internal policy.
It argued that its client had not seen the audit report, which the SABC had not given to him, and therefore its client did not have sufficient opportunity to respond meaningfully to the allegations as presented to him by the M&G. The firm also took issue with the amount of time the M&G gave its client to respond. The report landed at the M&G's door on Thursday morning, the day the newspaper publishes.
The M&G argued that it was not the newspaper's responsibility to give Aaron's client the full audit report, but rather present the essence of the allegations, which the M&G intended to publish in order to seek comment.
The M&G also argued that the newspaper took all reasonable steps to enable Aaron's client to respond to the allegations. The M&G first contacted SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago who, as per SABC policy, spoke on behalf of SABC employees. Kganyago then contacted Aaron's client, who contacted the M&G.
However, rather than taking the opportunity to respond, Aaron's client remained silent, and less than an hour before print deadline Aaron sent an SMS to the M&G saying he was taking legal action and warned the M&G that it "print and/or [distribute] at [its] peril". He gave no indication of why the M&G should not publish and only served unsigned papers at 7.30pm on Thursday.
Click here to read full report on M & G Online