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Safety of Journalists



The safety of journalists is one of SANEF’s top priorities. It was a key component of our 2019 elections campaign and now is a critical aspect of our Covid 19 programme.

In terms of the Coronavirus we have gathered a number of important trauma resources that we hope will be of assistance to journalists during this stressful period.

Please see below:

3 ways to get assistance

In the event that a member of the media is facing any form of threat or violence, this must be reported to the South African Police Service as a matter of urgency, as the appropriate authority tasked with handling criminal matters.

All members of the media are encouraged to prioritise their safety and the safety of those around them, put in place necessary measures for protection, and seek appropriate assistance from colleagues, friends and family, and the designated bodies that can assist.

The SAPS can be contacted on 10111.

A complaint may also be lodged with the South African Human Rights Commission in accordance with the Complaints Handling Procedures (1 January 2018).  The South African Human Rights Commission is competent to investigate any alleged violation of human rights, either on its own initiative or on receipt of a complaint, and has a wide discretion to decide whether to investigate a complaint or not.

During the election period, the IEC should be approached with any matter that falls within its jurisdiction as a contravention of the electoral law framework.  For example, section 8 of the Electoral Code of Conduct requires candidates to respect the role of the media during elections, including by not preventing members of the media from accessing public political meetings, marches, demonstrations and rallies.  It further provides that every party and candidate must take all reasonable steps to ensure that journalists are not subjected to harassment, intimidation, hazard, threat or physical assault by any of their representatives or supporters.  In the event that a registered party or candidate does not adhere to these provisions, this should be brought to the attention of the Commission as a breach of the Electoral Code of Conduct.

For media inquiries please contact: [email protected]

As an organisation, SANEF has taken up safety issues through various channels. We have fought the matter through training, research and the courts.


An important component of our elections training in 2019 was dedicated to safety of journalists.

Access the CPJ South Africa Election Safety for Journalists Toolkit


SANEF held an important workshop on the matter of safety of journalists online in September 2019 with political parties. We invited world-renowned, Indian journalist and Washington Post columnist, Rana Ayyub to be the guest speaker. Also, Lawrence Mute, Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa was in attendance. Independent media law expert, Okyerebea Ampofo-Anti, delivered an input on a possible way forward including crafting a draft MOU to ensure improved terms of engagement.

Access the speaking notes from the 2019 SANEF workshop

Further, in 2019 we took South Africa’s third biggest political party the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to court to stop online harassment of journalists.

Learn more about the South African National Editors’ Forum v Economic Freedom Fighters litigation


The COVID-19 (SARS CoV-2) virus is a new infection. (SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19 disease.) What we know about it is growing and changing all the time as scientists conduct more research. So as journalists, citizens and people who want to stay healthy, your first responsibility is to use only reliable information sources to guide your reporting and your actions. please see click the following link for more on this. Please read the pamphlet here:sanef covid pamphlet web version (002)


The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way journalists work. It has threatened their livelihoods and their health. This panel discussion, moderated by Bhekisisa editor Mia Malan, takes a closer look at how covering and living the story of the new coronavirus affected the mental health of journalists. Health reporters Joan van Dyk from Bhekisisa and Elizabeth Merab of the Nation Media Group in Kenya shared their experiences of reporting on the pandemic, with input from Kate Skinner, the executive director of the South African National Editors Forum, Sanef. Meera Selva, the director of Journalism Fellowship at the Reuters Institute of Journalism at Oxford shared the findings of a study called “Staying Sane in Maddening Times: Journalism, mental health and the pandemic”.  Watch the webinar here.