The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) was alarmed to hear of the harassment of a SABC Durban news crew while out in the field yesterday. They had been reporting on the impact of the lockdown on rural communities but were later blocked and threatened by a group, not related to their news story.
Thanks to the swift action of members of the Ulundi SAPS, the journalists were not injured. However, SANEF believes that journalists doing essential work – and keeping the public informed – should never be subjected to such traumatic experiences. Community members threatened to burn the SABC news vehicle.
SANEF calls on community leaders including traditional leaders in KwaZulu-Natal – and across the country – to ensure that citizens are clearly informed about the media’s right to be out in the field, as designated essential workers. We have a critical job to play to responsibly inform and educate the public about the spread and containment of the virus.
In this case, it appears that community members turned against the media out of frustration due to their poverty and due to a lack of service delivery.
SANEF is working with local and national media bodies including the international organisation, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and local media NGO, Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) to monitor safety issues.
From our side, we are satisfied that the media has complied with government regulations and that journalists in the field are equipped with the relevant press cards and permits to allow their free movement to cover all areas of the country.
To ensure the safety and protection of journalists SANEF has called on all media organisations to make sure their staff are kitted with the relevant protective gear.
We refer all media organisations to the safety tips including on our SANEF website.
Further, we call on all media organisations to ensure, wherever possible, that they provide trauma counselling for journalists who have been out on assignment. SANEF, again, notes the long-term damaging effects of untreated trauma. We have compiled a list of trauma and psychological services for journalists that can be accessed on our website.
Note to Editors: The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) is a non-profit organisation whose members are editors, senior journalists and journalism trainers from all areas of the South African media. We are committed to championing South Africa’s hard-won freedom of expression and promoting quality, ethics and diversity in the South African media. We promote excellence in journalism through fighting for media freedom, writing policy submissions, research and education and training programmes. SANEF is not a union.
For more information please contact:
Mahlatse Mahlase – SANEF Chairperson, (083) 399-2852
Judy Sandison – SANEF KZN Convenor (082) 571-3334
Sbu Ngalwa – SANEF Eastern Cape Convenor (073) 404-1415
Janet Heard – SANEF Western Cape SANEF Convenor, (078) 041-9528
Hopewell Radebe – SANEF Acting Gauteng Regional Convenor (083) 582-1734
Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director – (082) 926-6404