SANEF’S MEDIA DEFENCE FUND
THE MEDIA DEFENCE FUND
From 2016 SANEF has been holding an annual “Black Wednesday” gala fundraising dinner which has now become one of the most important events on our calendar.
Background to Black Wednesday
On October 19, 1977 apartheid-era Justice Minister Jimmy Kruger outlawed 18 organisations, including the Union of Black Journalists (UBJ), three newspapers: the World and the Weekend World edited by Percy Qoboza and Pro Veritate the publication published by anti-apartheid activist Beyers Naude. Qoboza and his deputy, Aggrey Klaaste were imprisoned. Naude and Donald Woods, editor of the Daily Dispatch, were banned from writing and put under house arrest.
We commemorate that day in the honour of the journalist organisations, editors and journalists that were banned, harassed, assaulted and imprisoned. But we extend that commemoration to all journalists and editors that were harassed, intimidated and assaulted throughout the apartheid era.
We hold a dinner to remember that dark day (and the apartheid period) and to celebrate how far we have come – but also we look at current media freedom matters. We reflect on areas where censorship has still not been eradicated (apartheid era laws still on our statute books etc.) and where new forms of censorship have arisen. Further, and most importantly, we use the dinner as a fundraiser with a focus on building our media freedom legal fund.
Work of the media legal fund
To date SANEF has used our legal fund for a number of high profile and important cases including a fight against a President Zuma aligned grouping – Black First Land First – that openly attacked journalists and editors in 2017, including confronting and accosting editors at their houses. Read more here.
The fund also supported SANEF’s litigation against South Africa’s third largest political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to push for the protection of journalists online.
Finally, the fund supports a significant amount of policy and legislative work fought to maintain and improve the media freedom landscape in South Africa.