In the latest edition of Eusebius on TimesLIVE we explain a judgment handed down on Tuesday in the Western Cape High Court that directs Steinhoff to hand over, within 10 days, a 2019 PwC report it had commissioned to look into the 2017 collapse of the company.
Financial Mail editor Rob Rose, who is the second applicant in the matter, explained why the judgment is important.
First, the court made it clear Steinhoff cannot rely on the status of being a private company to escape the reach and scope of the Promotion of Access to Information Act.
McKaiser and Rose discussed the importance of this legal conclusion in helping to ensure that not only the public sector but also private players are held maximally accountable for their actions.
Second, McKaiser pointed out that the judgment not only asserted the importance of media freedom but related it to freedom of expression more fundamentally. Rose said the reason this matters is not to allow journalists to dig up information as an end in itself but ultimately to enable the public to know the facts about what is happening in society.
McKaiser, agreeing with Rose, explained these rights are often wrongly seen as workplace demands from journalists but, in reality, both the right to freedom of expression and media freedom exist to ensure citizens are able to enjoy their political rights. Without a free flow of information that is not possible. That is why accessing a document like the PwC report is important, and the ruse of “legal privilege” was not accepted by the court.
Finally, Rose told McKaiser he hopes the PwC report will be handed over rather than there being further legal resistance.
McKaiser and Rose ended the discussion by considering the business and ethical reasons why Steinhoff should choose transparency instead of further troubling the courts.
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