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The Public's Right To Know Vs The Individual's Right To Privacy

1899 words - 8 pages

The Oscar Pistorius murder trial has brought to light the ever-present tensions between an individual’s right to privacy, especially when they are a public figure and the media’s right to freedom of expression especially when the information is in the public interest. South Africa as a country with a history of discrimination always strives to uphold all the rights of its citizens so in a case such as Pistorius’ where there are two rights in contrast, it is never clear which one should be wavered in favour of the other. Everyone, be he public figure or not, is entitled to some form of privacy; the aim then for the media, and the courts is to find out how far the privacy of individuals can be ...view middle of the document...

The cameras must be installed in such a way that they do not interfere with proceedings. No camera operators will be allowed in the courtroom to control equipment, to prevent disruptions… Mlambo allowed the opening argument for state and defence, expert evidence, and the testimony of police and all consenting state witnesses to be broadcasted… Prosecution witnesses may elect to have their testimony withheld from video cameras.
Pistorius’ defense argued against the broadcasting because they believed that it would lead him to getting an unfair trial. But Judge Dunstan Mhlambo said that because the trial was in the public interest, broadcasting it would ensure that more people were able to have access to the proceedings “’particularly those who are poor and who have found it difficult to access the justice system, they should have a first-hand account of the proceedings involving a local and international icon.’” (chibba: 2014).
The constitution of South Africa dictates that every person in the country has certain rights. These rights may not be broken or compromised unless in conflict with another seemingly more important right. Only the court of law can say when a right may be compromised. According to The Bill of Rights, “everyone has the right to privacy.” (SA Constitution: 19). In Jones’ ‘When the Public Interest is not what interests the Public’ (169),
A person, who, by his accomplishments, fame… or profession… which gives the public a legitimate interest in his doings, his affairs, and his character; has become a ‘public person.’ Where a person’s way of life is directed to seeking publicity and he is viewed by the society in which he lives as a celebrity, for instance… [a] professional sportsman… he is considered, to a certain extent, to have forfeited his right to privacy.
According to this definition, Oscar Pistorius is a public figure. He is known both locally and internationally. He is a professional athlete, dubbed ‘The blade runner’. The public has a legitimate interest in him as he is a double amputee who competes in both able-bodied and amputee athletic events. His publicity is what led him to be sponsored by big brands like Nike. Pistorius is already ‘newsworthy’ as a person and the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp made him even more so. If a normal citizen had done the same he would have probably garnered some attention but not to the extent that Oscar Pistorius did; but, that is because he is a public figure. The reason why a normal south African would not get the same amount of international media scrutiny had he been in the same situation, is because he is not as newsworthy to other countries; their public would not be as interested in him because they do not know him as they do Pistorius.
The Bill of Rights also states that “everyone has the right to freedom of expression which includes- freedom of press and other medias… This right… does not extend to propaganda for war, incitement of imminent violence; or advocacy...

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