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Journalists under Fire – eNCA Journalists Attacked by Criminals and a Body of a Journalist Found in Free State

27 May 2019


The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) is deeply worried following the death of a Free State journalist and an attack on a TV crew last week.

Cameraman Tshepo Dhlamini and producer Harrietta Mbuzwana from eNCA’s investigative current affairs programme Checkpoint were working on an in-depth story on the Alex shutdown. As they were finishing their shoot they were approached by 3 men with a gun.  The men held up the crew and stole their equipment excluding the camera. Both journalists were severely shaken by the incident and have opened a case with the Alexandra police.

Sanef also mourns the death of Free State journalist, Junior Bonase, aged 41. His body was discovered along the N1 near Heuningspruit by a passerby. Bonase worked for the Bloemfontein-based Dumelang News publication.

The Police’s Colonel Thandi Mbambo, who is investigating his death, says a case of culpable homicide has been opened and that a post-mortem had been conducted on Thursday. The results however have proven to be inconclusive. Further tests will now be conducted in Bloemfontein.

SANEF conveys its deepest sympathies to Bonase’s family. “We have lost an award-winning journalist”, stated SANEF Chairperson Mahlatse Mahlase. He won a regional Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award in 2015 in the online category. “We hope that the police will be able to determine the cause of his death as soon as possible,” she added.

In terms of both incidents SANEF once again calls on media houses to protect their journalists – including doing security assessments where necessary and supporting journalists by offering hostile environment training and counselling.

Further, we encourage journalists to access information on safety issues on the SANEF website.

As part of our election training the New York-based NGO, The Committee to Protect Journalists’ Emergencies Response Team (ERT) compiled a Safety Kit which is available here. https://cpj.org/2019/02/south-africa-election-journalist-safety-kit.php

Finally, SANEF wants to reiterate that a major priority project – that is ongoing – is an education campaign that explains to the public the important role of journalists in society in uncovering corruption, lack of service delivery and news about issues that directly affect people in their daily lives.  SANEF believes the campaign should involve all South Africans.

For more information please contact:

  • Mahlatse Mahlase – SANEF Chairperson, 083 399 2852
  • Sam Mkokeli – SANEF Media Freedom 082 084 2051
  • Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director 082 926 6404