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Court rules in favour of "Times of Swaziland" newspaper in censorship case

(MISA/IFEX) - On 20 January 2009 an attempt to censor the privately-owned "Times of Swaziland" newspaper failed when the High Court of Swaziland dismissed an application brought by a woman who sought to stop the newspaper from publishing photographs of her.

Thobile Ndzimandze, who was recently arrested and in court for allegedly smearing a love rival with human waste on the face, took the "Times of Swaziland" to court seeking an interdict of the publication of photographs of her appearance in court. The newspaper had photographed her during her appearance at the Mbabane magistrate's court.

Ndzimandze's lawyer, Mbutfo Mamba, argued before a High Court judge that the publication of the photographs would be a violation of his client's privacy and dignity and further place her at risk of being attacked by some members of the public once her identity became known and she was linked to the alleged crime.

However, the newspaper's lawyer argued that Ndzimandze's case was in open court and the public had a right to know what goes on in its courts. He said that if such an interdict were to be allowed it would set precedence and given that rape, murder and armed robbery suspects would prefer that their photos not be published this would infringe on the right to information.

Delivering his judgment, the judge said the public had a right to access information on what went on in the courts and added that this information could be enhanced by a photograph. He said the photograph, if just taken of Ndzimandze walking or in the premises of the court, was not of a demeaning nature or in bad taste but was merely an image. The judge dismissed the application with costs.

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