Judge warns media against ‘negative commentary’ in AFM church pastor saga

09th May 2017
High Court Judge Dr. Zein Kebonang Source:The Midweek Sun


By Nicholas Mokwena - Reporter

High Court Judge Dr. Zein Kebonang has warned the media to desist from influencing and creating perception about cases or accused persons. Advocate Kebonang expressed these sentiments when hearing a bail application by Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) Pastor, Mooketsi Mogomotsi last week.

Mogomotsi approached the High Court after Mochudi Magistrate Court denied him bail. The AFM pastor requested bail after he was arrested with two others, Thapelo Tlhase (25) and Mokganedi Porogwane (47), for the alleged murder of his wife, Dianah Ompelege Mogomotsi.

Kebonang stated that he was brought to the attention of one local weekly newspaper’s commentary on the pastor’s life history. He said that it appeared that the newspaper was trying to influence public perception about the pastor. “The whole commentary about his past was negative reporting. The media has to allow the courts to execute their duties. According to the Constitution, everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Trial by the public would turn the state into a banana republic. The media has to avoid that kind of journalism. Stop undermining other institutions of government,” he charged.

Kebonang explained that the media has the power to ‘break or build society.’ He indicated that in his opinion the commentary in the said newspaper was building assumptions that there is an agenda. The judge said the functions of the court are not to take into account what everyone says. “I am loyal to the Constitution. What has been written should not be taken to be having influence on the decision that I am going to take. We are bound by the oath we took when assuming office,” he said.

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