MEDIA freedom prevailed at a university moot court competition last night when Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University law students, who argued against the controversial Protection of State Information Act, won the final round of the university’s moot court competition.
Winners Tamryn Jensen and Liem Sieders made themselves eligible to represent the university at the All Africa Moot Competition to be held in Mozambique in September and the Phillip Jessop International competition in Washington DC in February.
The students were required to argue for the accused and the state in a fictional matter where a journalist was handed classified information by a paid informant working for the National Intelligence Agency.
The scenario was that the “first accused”, journalist Sipho Skosana, received information in exchange for cash from “co-accused” Asanda Luthuli pertaining to the intended formation of a new national party by a cabinet minister – in cahoots with the ANC Youth League – to run against the ruling party in the upcoming elections.
Students faced questions from a panel of retired judges, advocates and attorneys, including advocates Nathi Gaisa, Bruce Dyke, Mechelle Benecke, law faculty dean Professor Vivienne Lawack- Davids and Judge Hennie Liebenberg.
The teams argued for and against the bill, bringing in the public interest defence clause.
For the accused, it was argued the act was unconstitutional as it infringed on the accused’s freedom of expression and that the classification of the information was not justifiable as it did not pose a threat to national security.
Announcing the winners, Judge Liebenberg said the panel was impressed with the students’ level of argument.
Competition coordinator Joanna Botha said it had been fun to create the scenario as the act was a topical issue.