Application to bar media from blue lights corruption case dismissed

The Palm Ridge magistrate’s court has dismissed an application by a company linked to the “blue lights” corruption case to bar members of the media from reporting about the proceedings.

Vimpie Phineas Tlafelang Manthata and his co-accused, Daniel Rothman, made an application before court to prohibit the media from reporting about their case, citing that the media reportage damages their reputation as business executives.

Manthata is facing charges of fraud and contravention of the Tax Administration Act during the 2016–2017 and 2018–2019 tax assessment periods, during which the SA Revenue Service and the National Treasury allegedly lost over R27-million through misrepresented tax returns.

Out on R10 000 bail each

He is charged with his company, Instrumentation for Traffic Law Enforcement, alongside Judy Rose, who is employed as a tax practitioner in the company, and Daniel Rothman, a registered tax practitioner providing services to the company.

The trio is out on R10 000 bail each.

According to Henry Mamothame, a spokesman for the investigating directorate of the National Prosecuting Authority, Manthata’s lawyer asked the court to grant an injunction prohibiting the media from covering the case.

He claimed that “it causes significant damage to his reputation as a businessman who operates internationally”.

“His co-accused, Daniel Rothman, made a similar application through his attorney, arguing that he is a well-known professional bookkeeper who runs an accounting practice,” said Mamothame.

Right to freedom of expression

“The investigating directorate’s senior state prosecutor, advocate Tilas Chabalala, argued strongly against these applications, highlighting that the media has a right to freedom of expression as it represents the general public interest.

“He further argued that the media reports had objective facts about the case, showing no evidence that the accused were defamed.

“The court agreed with the state and dismissed these applications.”

The case has been postponed to July 30 for the suspects to study the docket that was presented by the state prior to the matter being set for trial.

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