State capture: Zondo warns media on premature coverage of testimony
Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo on Tuesday issued a stern warning to media houses not to publish details of affidavits before the state capture commission has heard them presented as evidence.
Zondo, who chairs the inquiry, said there was no reason why newspapers could not wait for testimony to be heard by the commission. The warning came after some newspapers reported on the affidavit of former Bosasa executive Angelo Agrizzi at the weekend.
Zondo was speaking before Agrizzi took the stand at the commission on Tuesday.
"This past Sunday, a number of newspapers carried articles concerning evidence that Agrizzi, who was already giving evidence before this commission, was yet to give. It would appear that certain newspapers had access to a copy of Agrizzi’s affidavit that is before the commission. In some cases, it may be that they did not have access to the affidavit itself, but were given information relating to the contents of Agrizzi’s affidavit by certain people," Zondo said.
"It seems to me that there are certain journalists, editors and newspapers who decided that they would publish information relating to Agrizzi’s affidavit about which he was still to testify, and did so in breach of the regulation that I already told everybody about.
"I do not know whether the journalists and editors and newspapers who did so believe that it was in the public interest that they publish what Agrizzi was to testify about ahead of him giving evidence about it. I can see nothing that is in the public interest in the publication of what a witness is going to say a few days earlier."
Zondo urged media houses not to "undermine the work of the commission".
"We regard the work of this commission as very important. We regard it as a national task. We would like to focus on the national task we have been given. We would not like to have sideshows. We would like to focus on the work at hand," he said.
"Please do not publish information in circumstances where you are undermining the work of this commission. There is no reason why you can’t wait for a few days for the witness to deal with his or her evidence, without it having been published ahead [of time]."