The SA National Editors’ Forum is deeply shocked at the death threats and other intimidatory moves against two Sunday Times journalists, Mzilikazi Wa Afrika and Stephan Hofstatter, both of whom have exposed malpractice and corruption by government officials in their newspaper.
Sanef condemns these tactics which are directed not only at the two journalists concerned but to all journalists who have written critically about the questionable conduct of public officials or those in high office in the private sphere.
Sanef has requested a meeting with the Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, in his capacity as head of the Cabinet Security Cluster, to discuss the matter with him and members of the Cluster. It has also requested that he inform members of the Cluster of Sanef’s grave concerns that the two journalists could be seriously harmed if the threats are carried out and that journalists as a whole will feel insecure and intimidated. Sanef has also urged the minister to request all assistance from his colleagues in investigating these shocking incidents.
Sanef welcomes the measures taken by the Sunday Times to protect its staff members and urges all media groups to be especially vigilant to protect their staffs against intimidatory actions of whatever nature.
Sanef supports the call to the police to fully investigate the threats. The fact that one of the threats contains a reference to “hitmen” wearing police uniforms is an added reason for the investigation to be thorough and searching or else the police could be blamed for any untoward activity that is directed at the two men. In any event, the authorities should take note that the manner in which Wa Afrika was arrested by the police recently suggests that there is official antagonism towards him and that the authorities will readily be blamed for any attacks on him.
Sanef calls on the media to show solidarity towards their colleagues when situations become threatening and to be especially vigilant.
The government is urged to take action to protect these and other journalists to ensure that the reputation of SA’s functioning democracy is not harmed by gangster-like actions and assassinations that have damaged other countries.
Issued by the SA National Editors’ Forum (SANEF)
SA National Editors’ Forum (SANEF)
Tel: +27 (0) 11 484 3630 / +27 (0) 11 484 3617
Fax: +27 (0) 11 484 3593
Mobile: +27 (0) 84 784 2006