Was the High Court right to find that the DA’s SMS saying Zuma ‘stole’ was fair comment? – Dario Milo and Ben Winks

13 04 2014

ZumaOn Friday, 4 April 2014, in the case of African National Congress v Democratic Alliance ([2014] ZAGPJHC 58), the  the Johannesburg High Court that it was ‘fair comment’ for the Democratic Alliance (DA) to label President Zuma a thief in a bulk SMS sent to over 1.5 million recipients last month. The judgment raises important questions about the boundaries of free speech in a democratic society. Read the rest of this entry »

Broadcasting the Oscar Pistorius criminal trial – Dario Milo

4 04 2014

Oscar Pistorius trialIn the past weeks, hundreds of thousands of people around the world have been able to hear and see on television, radio and the Internet the evidence being led in the criminal trial of Oscar Pistorius. Pistorius stands accused of murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine’s morning last year. Read the rest of this entry »

South Africa: Media Freedom, looking backward, looking forward – Dario Milo

26 01 2014

Dario-MiloLast year was a busy year for the media in South Africa. There have again been a number of court decisions that have given the media the breathing space it needs to function in our democracy. Read the rest of this entry »

South Africa, Oscar’s trial by media: the legalities – Dario Milo

11 06 2013

pistorius_2486158bWhat do President Jacob Zuma and Oscar Pistorius have in common?  In both their cases, the courts commented on the potentially harmful impact on the administration of justice of publicity about the case. Read the rest of this entry »

News: South Africa’s President Zuma abandons all his outstanding media libel actions

5 06 2013

Jacob ZumaOn Friday 31 May 2013 the spokesman for the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, announced that the President had “elected to withdraw” his legal claims against “various Media Groups“.   It was reported that the President felt that “measured as against the broader nation interest and challenges which the country is faced with, his personal sentiments, however aggrieved he may feel, must give way“.  This bland statement conceals one of  the most spectacular of all libel climb-downs by a politician. Read the rest of this entry »

Freedom of expression loses in Swaziland case – Dario Milo

30 04 2013

bheki-makhubu-smallLast week, the Swaziland High Court handed down a decision with grave implications for freedom of expression. The Nation magazine, an independent publisher, and its editor Bheki Makhubu were found guilty of the crime of contempt of court, fined 400,000 emalangeni (about £28,000), and ordered to pay half of the fine within three days of the decision or be imprisoned for two years.  Read the rest of this entry »

South Africa: National security versus freedom of speech – Dario Milo

12 04 2013

Fallen_Heroes.jpgThis year seems destined to go down in South African constitutional history as the one in which the battle between free speech and national security was fought.  The contest between these competing interests was brought into sharp focus again this week, in President Jacob Zuma’s message of condolence at the memorial service of the 13 soldiers tragically killed in the Central African Republic (CAR). Read the rest of this entry »

South Africa, Review of the Year: Media in a contest for freedom – Dario Milo and Pamela Stein

16 12 2012

4066134253As 2012 draws to a close, it is timely to take stock of some of the more important developments in the area of media law this year.

The courts have been very active in building on the solid foundation of media freedom which section 16 of our constitution protects.

The most important decision of the year was the Constitutional Court’s ruling in September in the challenge brought by Print Media South Africa and the South African National Editors’ Forum against aspects of the Films and Publications Act of 1996. Read the rest of this entry »

South Africa: Zuma v Zapiro and the rape of the justice system – Dario Milo

8 11 2012

On 29 October 2012, President Zuma formally withdrew his defamation claim against Sunday Times, Mondli Makhanya and the cartoonist Zapiro, and offered to pay 50% of their legal costs. The claim related to Zapiro’s “rape of justice” cartoon. Given that Zuma’s original claim was for R4 million in damages to his reputation and R 1 million in damages to his dignity, as well as legal costs and interest, the withdrawal – which sees Zuma paying money to those he sued and not the other way round – has rightly been hailed as a victory for the defendants. Read the rest of this entry »

State of Media Freedom in South Africa, Part 3, Threats to Media Freedom – Dario Milo

26 10 2012

This is the third part  of a speech delivered on Press Freedom day, 19 October 2012 at Wits University.  The first part was posted on Wednesday 24 October 2012 and the second part on Thursday 25 October 2012.

The first threat I want to talk about is the use of apartheid era security legislation by members of the executive to stifle transparency and accountability.  Read the rest of this entry »


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