On 11th December 2021, the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) calls on law-enforcement agencies to investigate and arrest the callous criminals threatening the lives of SABC’s Lesedi FM journalists for covering the local government elections in the Free State Province.
SANEF has learnt with great dismay of a message sent to Lesedi FM News’ Current Affairs Senior Producer Dimakatso Motsoeneng where she received death threats including unprintable violence against her children too. Motsoeneng’s colleagues Palesa Chubisi and Lahliwe Matsoso also received similar threats.
These criminals accused the journalists and the LesediFM news team of being responsible for the ANC’s defeat at the Maluti-a-Phofung Local Municipality and Metsimaholo Local Municipality.
SANEF notes with grave concern that this incident comes on the back of Transport Minister and ANC’s head of elections Fikile Mbalula’s baseless attack on the SABC for its coverage of the November elections.
Mbalula, who claimed the SABC never showed the good side of the ANC by focusing on poor service delivery, not only blamed the public broadcaster for the ANC’s dismal performance at the polls but he also singled out and attacked SABC Editor-in-Chief & Group Executive: SABC News & Current Affairs Ms Phathiswa Magopeni.
SANEF believes that the ANC should also do its own investigation and distance itself from these criminals using the governing party’s name.
The party should also rein in its leaders who have publicly attacked the SABC as such behaviour encourages cyberbullying by party members and their followers, particularly on social media.
The attacks are particularly harsh on women journalists with additional risks that range from sexual harassment, cyber-harassment to rape threats and even murder threats
We also believe that these attacks show disregard for the important role that journalists play in bringing news to the people, especially during this election period.
Anyone with a complaint about a story or broadcast should submit this to the BCCSA or the Press Council where it would be fairly and independently adjudicated.
We remain concerned about the impact of these attacks on the media’s ability to represent all voices in storytelling and ensure that all voices are heard. Many areas in the country are increasingly becoming dangerous hot spots to report from as several reporting crews have been robbed attacked.
SANEF believes that the safety of journalists is intertwined with the general safety and wellbeing of communities whose stories they are out to cover. Lack of safety compromises the working environment of journalists as well as their livelihoods. It also threatens media freedom.
We reiterate our call on law enforcement agencies to arrest and prosecute the criminals who attack or threaten journalists. These attacks place enormous physical and emotional burdens on journalists who are already exposed to severe constraints under a deadly COVID-19 pandemic. Without journalists focusing on the plight of communities, local government stories will go unreported.
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
Makhudu Sefara – Acting SANEF Media Freedom Chair 079 177 2134
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
Reggy Moalusi – SANEF Executive Director (071) 682-3695
Email: [email protected] Website: www.sanef.org.za