Sanef, R2K welcome SCA ruling on Parly signal jamming

The SCA ruled that government was wrong to jam cell phone signals during last year’s Sona.

FILE: South African Parliament. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - The Right2Know Campaign, the Open Society Advice Network and the South African National Editors' Forum ( Sanef) have welcomed today's Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruling, that government was wrong to jam cell phone signals during last year's State of the Nation Address.

Judges also said Parliament is not allowed to cut its television feed when proceedings are disrupted.

Last year, cell phone signals were cut, and the feed concentrated only on the speaker during a session that saw Julius Malema and the entire Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) caucus being forcibly removed from the National Assembly by security officers.

In a unanimous ruling, the five judges say these decisions by government and Parliament are unconstitutional and unlawful.

Parliament says it's now going through today's judgment by the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Parliament spokesperson Luzuko Jacobs says, "We've received the judgement; it's a comprehensive judgment, we're going through it and we note the order in the judgement."

Sanef Executive Director Mathatha Tsedu says this shows Parliament's TV feed policy was wrong.

"It cannot be up to the speaker and other officials of Parliament to determine if what happens in Parliament is suitable for South Africans."

The appeal was brought by Primedia Broadcasting.

Primedia CEO Roger Jardine says the public were kept away from Parliament by these decisions.

"They couldn't see what was happening in the Chamber by they elected representatives. It fundamentally constrained the participation of citizens in our democracy."

We brought this appeal because it is important for the media to be able to fully report on what happens in Parliament, Jardine said.

"And by extension, the general public want to see and know what our leaders are doing and saying in Parliament, so it was a very important matter to pursue."

He says this ruling shows everyone has to be able to see what happens in Parliament.

To view the full judgment click here.

To read the full state from Primedia click here.