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SANEF calls on MK Party leadership to act against those who ill-treated journalists at their rally at Orlando Stadium

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21 May 2024

“I was pushed aside by a man who touched my breasts as he aggressively wanted to make way for the arrival of Jacob Zuma”.

This was the account of one of the journalists who attended the MK Party rally at Orlando Stadium in Soweto. She told the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) that there were numerous complaints of harassment, intimidation, and aggressive behaviour towards journalists covering the rally – particularly female journalists.

Another journalist told SANEF how they were elbowed, by men wearing military fatigues, who became extremely aggressive by the minute.

SANEF condemns the acts of violence against journalists and calls on the leadership of the Jacob Zuma-led MK Party to act against those involved.

We will not tolerate such behaviour at political rallies, where political principals often fail to call their supporters to behave accordingly and afford journalists the space to do their work.

Last month SANEF shared its Statement of Commitment on Media Freedom and the Protection of Journalists, with The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), which expands on Item 8 of the Electoral Code of Conduct on the role of the media. This states that the media must be enabled to perform its constitutionally mandated duties and functions in the public interest without fear, threat, or undue restriction.

It is disheartening that the MK Party bullies disregarded this important principle last Saturday. Unfortunately, we have not heard a word from the party’s leadership, in response to these dreadful incidents.

SANEF Statement of Commitment calls on all registered parties, candidates, and independent candidates to commit to

  • Not engage in any act of intimidation, harassment, harm, or other unlawful conduct against any media representative.
  • Not using any language, insinuation, or conduct that may provoke, encourage, or incite office-bearers, representatives, members, or supporters to intimidate, harass or harm any media representative, either on- or offline.
  • Not supporting or condoning any intimidation, harassment, or harm committed against any media representative.
  • Not supporting or condoning any abusive acts against any media representative through any form of communication, including anonymous calls or online threats.
  • Not singling out any media representative at any meeting, rally, or similar gathering in a manner that may lead to intimidation, harassment, or harmful conduct against that person.

With the elections on May 29, around the corner, SANEF calls on all political parties to respect journalists and their work. Journalists must be given the space to do the work without being disrespected or abused – particularly female journalists who continue to be intimidated, bullied, harassed and face horrendous, misogynistic treatment from some of the supporters, and sometimes the leaders, of political parties.

SANEF is of the view that parties that do not discourage such aggressive behaviour from their supporters, should not be surprised if some newsrooms choose not to send any staff to report on events where they are likely to be subjected to abuse.

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 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 by 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

Nwabisa Makunga – SANEF Deputy Chairperson (082) 555-1972

Dr. Glenda Daniels – SANEF Secretary-General (083) 229-9708

Tshamano Makhadi – Treasurer-General (082) 223-0621

Makhudu Sefara – SANEF Media Freedom Chair (079) 177-2134

Katy Katopodis – SANEF Wellness and Safety Chair (082) 805-7022

Judy Sandison – SANEF KZN Convenor (082) 571-3334

Rochelle De Kock – SANEF Eastern Cape Convenor (072) 969-8028

Reggy Moalusi – SANEF Executive Director (071) 682-3695

Twitter: @SAEditorsForum

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.sanef.org.za