Barrister Malesela Teffo, who is representing four of the defendants, was arrested when the High Court in Pretoria adjourned. He is now released on R10,000 bail. (PHOTO: Rosetta Msimango)
A standoff has ensued between defense attorney Malesela Teffo and a production house contracted to streaming giant Netflix over potential harassment and intimidation of witnesses following a documentary aired on the streaming service on the murder of the former captain of the Bafana Bafana, Senzo Meyiwa.
The murder trial at the High Court in Pretoria took an unexpected turn when Teffo proposed that the production company be dropped from the cover of the proceedings for not being primarily a news agency.
Ten Ten Productions was granted access to film the proceedings when the trial began in April. However, Teffo, who is the defense attorney for four of the five men accused of shooting the former Orlando Pirates goaltender, accused the media company of seeking profit rather than informing the public of the legal procedures.
They are not a media company. Their job is not to show people the normal court process, but they aired a documentary, which identifies the witnesses four days before the real trial begins. They are in the business of benefiting from the death of the deceased.
Attorney Ben Winks, who is the production company’s legal representative, said he was unaware of the allegations and warned the court that a normal notice of motion with a supporting affidavit and evidence should be filed to give them the opportunity to respond to the allegations.
Winks also debunked the proposition that Ten Ten is not a media company, citing that if a gagging order were granted, it would be a serious violation of his constitutional rights.
“None of the other media houses are non-profit organizations. They rely on news content and media coverage to generate revenue. My client cannot be isolated. Documentaries and films are part of the media.
Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela asked Winks if there was a possibility of airing more episodes during the trial, to which he replied, “There is no legal basis prohibiting my client from doing so; however, this should not impede or adversely affect the administration of justice.
In the end, Maumela ruled that Ten Ten Productions was within its rights to film the proceedings as it had obtained permission through its earlier application. “I am unable to order anyone as there is no verifiable evidence indicating that this is not a media company.”
After the long debacle, Teffo laid the groundwork by bringing new evidence to witness Thabo Mosia. State Attorney George Baloyi requested an adjournment of proceedings, which did not elicit opposition. Teffo sought comments from Mosia in an affidavit he wrote in January 2019, four years after the Meyiwa murder case opened at the Vosloorus police station.
The trial continues.