Cape Town – Independent Media, Independent Online and journalist Thabo Makwakwa were granted leave to appeal a judgment by the North Gauteng High Court, which interdicted them from publishing an intelligence report on the alleged activities of the CIA in destabilising the ANC.
The report in question was compiled by the State Security Agency and titled “US interest in ANC party dynamics”. The report was handed to Makwakwa by concerned sources in the SSA in December 2021. The SSA had previously obtained an interdict preventing Independent Media from publishing the report.
Independent Media’s editor-in-chief, Aziz Hartley, said Independent Media, Makwakwa and IOL, all cited as respondents in the original interdict application, were of the professional opinion that it was the media’s right to report on matters that were in the public interest.
“The contents contained in this report are of the utmost importance and interest to the public. Preventing such matters from coming to light is an infringement of media freedom,” said Hartley.
Judge Daisy Molefe, in her ruling granting Independent Media leave to appeal on Thursday, that Independent Media submitted that there are also compelling reasons why leave to appeal should be granted because: (a) there is no definitive judgment on the question as to how journalists should treat classified information leaked to them, and this is of enormous significance for the work of journalists and for the public’s right of access to information; (b) there is no case law which pronounces conclusively on the issues in the appeal, and thus the matter is deserving of further scrutiny by a higher court.
“For these reasons, I am satisfied that leave to appeal the order to the SCA should be granted,” said Molefe
Last week, Molefe made public her judgment that had previously interdicted Independent Media from making the report public.
Hartley said the judgment was a victory for press freedom.
“The judgment is a great victory for Independent Media and media freedom in general. We have always maintained our stance that the matter has been in the public interest. We have been vindicated,” said Hartley.