ANC president Jacob Zuma and the National Prosecuting Authority finally have something in common: their deep scorn for the SABC, writes Karyn Maughan in The Star.

Lawyers for Zuma and the state have reacted with fury to the national broadcaster's aborted eleventh-hour bid to televise the latest round in their legal battle, slamming it as "ill-considered and disrespectful".

And they are also not happy about how the aspirant president was filmed during the judg- ment that scuttled his corruption prosecution.

The SABC on Friday withdrew its urgent application for the right to broadcast the NPA's bid to challenge Judge Chris Nicholson's ruling that Zuma's prosecution was invalid, agreeing to pay both Zuma and the state's hefty legal bills in the abandoned case.

It is understood that these bills will cost the taxpayer several hundred thousand rands.

The broadcaster also received a tongue-lashing from Scorpions advocate Anton Steynberg and Zuma's lawyer Michael Hulley, who both objected to the way in which Judge Nicholson's Zuma ruling had been televised.

In papers before the court, Steynberg compared the filming of the judgment to being "not dissimilar to the way in which the (SABC) films a game show".

He cast doubt on the SABC's claim that its application was motivated by its desire to educate the South African public, stating it appeared to be driven "by a desire to cash in on sensationalism".

Steynberg also expressed disquiet over the way in which Zuma's "personal (and private) reactions" to Judge Nicholson's ruling, as well as those of the lawyers involved in the case, were captured on camera.

Hulley agreed, describing the recording of Zuma as "distressing".

"Certain clips showing (Zuma) were aired time and time again on subsequent television broadcasts, and appear to have been selectively used to reflect him in the least dignified fashion.

"Again, this is regrettable, and the dangers of selective highlights in this manipulative fashion ought not to be permitted," he said.
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Hulley further stated that Zuma's counsel involved in the case before Judge Nicholson "have reported to me how intrusive and invasive the presence of television cameras were in court … more especially during the recording of the judgment in the matter".

"When the application was argued, media – including broadcast cameras – were allowed into the courtroom approximately five minutes before the presiding judge entered court.

"Counsel for (Zuma) found it extremely uncomfortable to have recording cameras placed literally centimetres from their faces, to the extent that on one occasion counsel walked out of the courtroom.

"In another instance, footage was taken of the labels on lever-arch files, and of counsel's manuscript notes on the desk.

"Images of those labels on the files were subsequently broadcast on national television. How this could be said to be educational and for the advancement of public knowledge is unfathomable.

"More importantly, counsel has reported to me that during the recording of the judgment in this matter, the roving camera in the courtroom focused directly on counsel while they were writing notes to each other or communicating with each other.

"The risks to privileged and confidential exchanges between counsel, particularly during argument in a matter, are obvious," he said.

Click here to read the full report, posted on The Star's website. (registration required)