Newspaper editor Laurence Gandar and reporter Benjamin Pogrund were yesterday (Thursday) found guilty of contravening South Africa's Prisons Act.
Newspaper editor Laurence Gandar and reporter Benjamin Pogrund were yesterday (Thursday) found guilty of contravening South Africa's Prisons Act. It was the end to a marathon trial which began in November 1968 and lasted through 88 days.
The "Rand Daily Mail" on which the two men worked, is an English-language newspaper whose crusading activities against the South African Government and its policies have been expected for many years to lead to a show-down. The issue on which the paper and the two men were tried was a series of articles about conditions in South African prisons.
The articles appeared in June and July 1965, and alleged assaults on prisoners, sodomy and unhygienic conditions in several South Africa prisons.
The two men were convicted on two charges. The first referred to three articles in the paper concerning prisons at Port Elizabeth and Pretoria. The second referred to a fourth article on conditions in the Cinderella Prison, Boksburg, near Johannesburg.
The judge found that the prosecution had proved the falsity of 17 allegations made in the articles dealing with the Port Elizabeth and Pretoria prisons. The charges were that the paper had published false information about South African prison conditions without taking reasonable steps to verify it.
Mr Gandar, the Editor of the newspaper, was fined 100 Rand (GBP58 sterling or $162 US) on each count, with the alternative of three months imprisonment on each.
Mr Porgrund, a senior journalist, and the man who wrote the articles on prison life, was sentenced to three month imprisonment on each count, suspended for three years on condition that he does not contravene the Prisons Act in that period on the same charges.
The maximum penalty to which the men could have been sentenced was one year's jail, or a 200 Rand (about GBP117 sterling or $327 US) fine.