On 25 April 2021, the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) condemns the intimidation of SABC Radio news journalist Phanuel Shuma. He was forced to lay a charge of intimidation with the police on Thursday after two brothers accused of murder and a prosecutor accused of taking a bribe, to derail their case, at his place of work, the SABC offices in Pretoria. Brothers Manqoba and Lucky Khoza are out on bail. Prosecutor Solly Leballo also out on bail, is facing bribery and corruption charges for allegedly taking R100 000 from one of the accused to derail the murder case.
Shuma says he was targeted for writing a story about the case. This after eyewitnesses contacted him after one of the witnesses in the case was shot dead two weeks ago in Rethabiseng near Bronkorspruit. Julius Nyundu was gunned down in full view of his wife, a relative and his five children. The entire family is now in hiding fearing for their lives.
The investigating officer on the initial murder case that led to the arrest of the Khoza brothers and their sibling in July 2018, is in witness protection.
Shuma says when the men arrived at his workplace, he was afraid to meet them in person and instead spoke to them on the phone from the safety of his office. The men told him they were not happy with his recent report in which they say linked them to Nyundu’s murder and accused them of intimidation.
Shuma told the men to raise their complaints with the BCCSA or the SABC Head Office in Johannesburg.
“They said they wanted to see and meet the journalist who reported the story in question. I became even more scared. I strongly believe their visit to my workplace was a clear act of intimidation and perhaps to harm me,” added Shuma.
SANEF is concerned over the recent escalation in attacks against journalists and calls on the law enforcement authorities to act speedily to investigate the case and to bring the perpetrators to book. SANEF reminds the South African Police Services and the National Prosecutions Authorities to honour the new UN resolution on the safety of journalists which signals a strong international commitment to end all attacks, reprisals, intimidation, and violence against journalists. State institutions are urged to commit to using their powers to protect the safety of journalists and not to allow anyone to harass and intimidate journalists.
Sanef calls on our government to prevent and remedy all human rights violations against journalists. Failure to prioritise the safety of journalists creates a climate of fear which pushes journalists into self-censorship and silence. ARTICLE 19 encourages all States to continue to engage with civil society on ways to enhance their response to threats facing journalists as we look to the future.
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:
Sbu Ngalwa – SANEF Chairperson (073) 404-1415
Adriaan Basson – SANEF Deputy Chairperson (082) 562-2113
Mahlatse Mahlase – Secretary General (083) 399-2852
Nwabisa Makunga – Treasurer (082) 555-1972
Mary Papayya – SANEF Media Freedom Chair (082) 379-4957
Asanda Ngoasheng – Western Cape Convenor – 082 610 9374
Judy Sandison – SANEF KZN Convenor (082) 571-3334
Katy Katopodis – SANEF Gauteng Convenor (082) 805-7022
Chiara Carter – SANEF Eastern Cape Convenor (082) 659-9162