The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) is outraged by the attacks on journalists by University of Johannesburg security during the “FeesMustFall’’ campaign at the University last night.
Private security officials hired by the university attacked journalists and students at the Doornkloof and Kingsway campuses.
In one chilling incident, a photographer was punched repeatedly in the head, hit with a stick in the stomach, and then pepper sprayed at close range.
A group of reporters were circled on Joe Slovo drive, ordered to sit in the road and then pepper sprayed. A photographer was also hit in the face with a plank-line object
We strongly condemn this brutal response by the university security team, aimed at journalists who posed no threat and who were merely executing their duty of gathering information for the benefit of society.
Yesterday’s incidents are in line with a discomforting trend we have noticed where journalists become targets of private security while covering public protests. Sanef has raised its concerns with the University Vice Chancellor Dr Ihron Rensburg, who condemned the actions and promised to ensure the security teams respect the right of journalists to do their work.
Sanef has also condemned the hostility of student leaders to journalists and called on them to open channels of communication with media houses if they feel aggrieved by the coverage. Student leaders have also been encouraged to use available mechanisms such as the Press Ombudsman and the Broadcasting Complaints Commission to get redress.
We call on vice chancellors to intervene as the private security companies are hired by them.
We encourage our journalists to open criminal charges against the private security company personnel and continue to inform SANEF.
For enquiries you can contact:
Mathatha Tsedu – Sanef Executive Director
082 454 0527