Parliament to study SCA’s signal jamming judgment

The Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that Parliament's use of signal jammers was illegal.

FILE: Screengrab from the 'bring back the signal' chant by the media in Parliament during State of the Nation Address 2015. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Parliament says it needs to study the ruling in yesterday's Supreme Court of Appeal judgment that says it was illegal to jam cell phones and block images of Julius Malema being evicted during last year's State of the Nation Address.

Yesterday, five judges said unanimously that Primedia Broadcasting and several NGOs must win their appeal against an earlier ruling that the jamming and the blocking of images was justified.

Last year, signals were jammed and Parliament's feed focused on the Speaker in a session that saw Malema and his entire caucus being forcibly removed from the National Assembly.

Parliament's Luzuko Jacobs says they can't yet say what action they will take about this ruling.

"I think it's imperative for us to go through it and understand it before we can comment in any further detail about the issues the judgment raises."

In the ruling, judges said voters have a right to see what their elected officials do in the National Assembly.

They also say it's illegal to jam cell phones there without the permission of the Speaker.

South African National Editors Forum Executive Director Mathatha Tsedu has welcomed yesterday's ruling on signal jamming, saying Parliament can't introduce rules that make it impossible for the media to fulfil their work.

"The media is the instrument that brings what is happening in Parliament to people. So Parliament then cannot introduce rules that make it impossible for the media to be able to fulfil its work."