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Media barred from Nkandla hearing

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The media has been barred from the disciplinary hearings of two public works officials in relation to spending on Nkandla, the Public Servants Association said on Wednesday.

“The media application was opposed by the PSA and we had council arguing on our behalf,” spokesman Roshan Lil-Ruthan said.

“The chairman [of the hearing] ruled in the PSA’s favour and has dismissed Media24 and Independent Newspapers’ application.”

He said substantive arguments were put on paper, but parties agreed on Wednesday to make oral submissions and arguments.

Following the submissions, proceedings adjourned for half an hour before the chairman made his decision.

The PSA would make the same application barring the media from other officials’ hearings.

The officials were opposing a bid by the two media houses to attend the hearings about the R246 million so-called security upgrades approved for President Jacob Zuma’s private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.

Lil-Ruthan said there were three grounds on which the media were barred: that the officials had a right to privacy, due to the provisions of the Protection of Personal Information Act, and because the officials feared for their lives and safety.

“The chairperson believes that was a substantive reason,” Lil-Ruthan said.

“He declared these are private proceedings and employees may be whistleblowers and information is private and confidential.”

He said the PSA was happy with the outcome and was confident the same ruling would be made for the other officials’ hearings because a precedent had been set.

The PSA also made an application that the chairman and lawyers for the department be recused from the hearings.

“We asking that the chair and the employer’s representative be recused because they are externally appointed. We have appointed attorneys at great cost and the employer has taxpayers’ money. We are opposed to this on the basis that it’s not fair.”

The PSA wanted the hearings to be handled internally and external parties barred from proceedings.

Lil-Ruthan said the PSA expected this application to be heard later next week. SAPA

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