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SANEF condemns attack on journalists at the Senekal Court

The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) is deeply concerned that journalists were assaulted and harassed on Tuesday when protesting farmers stormed the Senekal Magistrate’s Court in the Free State.

Citizen journalist Marizka Coetzer and photographer Tracy-Lee Stark were assaulted and their equipment damaged when a crowd of approximately 1 000 farmers protested outside the court against the murder of 22 year old Brendin Horner on Tuesday afternoon.

“… they requested that no photographs be taken, when I refused the request speaking in English, one farmer called me a ‘liberal bitch’ and I was physically assaulted and my camera was grabbed”, photographer Stark said.

“They threatened to smash it while pushing me around and continuing to physically assault me. Another farmer stepped in and told them to back off. I was told to leave the area immediately with continued shouting that I should remove my liberal self and leave for my own safety”, she said.

The violent protest in Senekal happened barely a day after writer and columnist, Ismail Lagardien was seriously injured covering abalone protests in Kleinmond, Western Cape that also turned violent on Monday 5 October.

SANEF is seriously troubled by the growing trend of communities attacking reporters seeking to vent their anger and frustration against government authorities. Journalists deserve the right to a safe working environment like all workers in South Africa. When going out in the field to tell community stories they should not be subjected to such hazardous and life-threatening working conditions.

We call on AfriForum, the Unite Against Farm Murders movement and various political parties, including the Democratic Alliance, that participated in the gathering before the court proceedings, to protect journalists and promote the safety of journalists. They need to help combat the impunity of those who attack the media.

We call on law-enforcement agencies to thoroughly investigate these incidents and to bring perpetrators to book. It is only through the decisive and firm actions of state organs that criminals and members of society will stop attacking journalists.

SANEF is campaigning for all traumatised journalists to receive counselling assistance from their employers.

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

Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director – (082) 926-6404

Twitter: @SAEditorsForum

Email: [email protected]  Website: www.sanef.org.za

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