Witness Protection, or lack thereof.


I’m confused, or comprehension challenged.

The key witness is allegedly under witness protection, and yet the media speculates/suggests/reports on his actual location? Am I missing something here? Like, the real meaning of “protection”?

Is media freedom absolute? Does the media not have a moral duty to protect the identity/location of a key witness, who’s life could be in danger?

In my view, the media should be legally prevented from reporting on, or even speculating on, the whereabouts of anyone in a witness protection program.

Your views?

It just says “a prison” it doesn’t name a specific one.
Wouldn’t that be like saying “He may be living in a western state”? It isn’t really specific…

While I agree that the description is somewhat vague (although, how many prisons are there in the WC?), I also agree that the media definitely shouldn’t be even speculating on the whereabouts of someone under witness protection, most especially someone who has already suffered possible attempted retaliation.

picunurse, I acknowledge it is not specific, but in the greater scheme of things the Western Cape is a relatively small piece of real estate. If I was actively looking for someone, narrowing down all possibilities to only the prisons in the Western Cape is a pretty good starting point.

If someone is in a witness protection program, the only starting point I should have is Planet Earth. My quarry should have effectively disappeared and I should not be getting assistance from the media.

There is The Witness Protection Program in the USA where a stool pigeon turning states evidence against his fellow criminals is given a new identity and a new home in a secret location.

Then there is witness protection where a witness to a crime has the police looking after him, to prevent the criminals getting to him. There’s nothing wrong with telling where he is. The bad guys probably know this already.

Thanks Peter, you make an interesting distinction between the two concepts. I’ll ponder that for a while.

I’ll also see if I can find out whether we have two such separate avenues in SA, and if so, where this uncle fits in.

Thanks for your comment.

BTW, howdy TellMeI’mNotCrazy, :smiley: hope you’re keeping well.

Howdy back, MC, I’m doing well, but trying to cope with this heat :wink: December is going to kill me!

So far my research seems to indicate a singular witness protection philosophy.


I’ll scratch around some more.

You really expect the media to show any kind of responsibility about anything in its reporting? C’mon, now - you know better than that.

And another cite.


To save you wading through pages and pages, see the conclusion on pages 10 and 11. Of special interest the paragraph relating to witnesses being protected by placing them in maximum security prisons, and what could be termed “protective custody”.

Peter, I’ve thought about what you said, and I’m still uncomfortable with the notion that it’s okay for the media to disclose the whereabouts of a person in “protective custody.”

This somehow just does not sit well with me. I really see no need for the public to know the location, and for the media to report the location, even if in vague terms. It serves no positive purpose to society, and in fact it can be argued that it could very well jeopardize society’s best interests in that the witness might never get to testify.

As you can see from the above link, there have been numerous deaths of witnesses in South Africa, and so I really think that no compromise should be allowed. If a witness is in the witness protection program, whether in a safe house or a maximum security prison, that’s it. As far as the public is concerned, s/he has been erased.

Howdy Clothahump, missed your post on preview. :slight_smile:

Well, that’s what I’m hoping to achieve here. If more and more of the media’s clients (us readers) get together and state what is or is not responsible reporting, the more chance we have of changing their mindset.