15 May 2019
The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) strongly condemns the attack on two SABC journalists, Thabo Katsanda and Thabiso Radebe, at Moemaneng in Marquard in the Free State. The journalists escaped with their lives when they were attacked by a group of armed youth. They were forced to drive over a barricade of stones, rocks and burning tyres to get away.
Cameraman, Thabo Katsanda explained that the youths between 14 and 20 years old surrounded the car. “At first they seemed friendly and asked for money to remove the barricade that had been resurrected. Then they turned hostile. One pulled out a knife. It seemed that they wanted to rob us of our money and cellphones – and then burn the car”, he said.
For months now disgruntled residents have been protesting against poor service delivery and demanding that the municipal executives be removed. Journalists have been covering these stories amidst ongoing low levels of harassment and hostility. This time however things escalated – journalists were forced to flee and thus abandon the story.
SANEF is worried by the increasing attacks on journalists – particularly during service delivery strikes. There have been a number of incidents around the country, including most recently during the Alexandra township #shutdown protests. It seems journalists are becoming soft targets for criminals.
SANEF believes this is a worrying situation as journalists will now be more cautious about going into these areas. However, these are precisely the places – and stories – we need to be covering if we are serious about holding government to account.
SANEF calls on media houses to protect their journalists by doing security assessments if necessary and to support journalists by offering hostile environment training and counselling. Ahead of the elections, SANEF ran a series of elections workshops across the country that included safety training. The Committee to Protect Journalists’ Emergencies Response Team (ERT) compiled a Safety Kit which is available on the SANEF website. The kit contains information for editors, reporters, and photojournalists on how to mitigate digital, physical and psychological risks. The safety training session is also available on the SANEF website. We believe a major priority project that is ongoing is an education campaign that explains to the public the important role of journalists in society in uncovering corruption, lack of service delivery etc. That campaign should involve all South African and should not be left to just editors.
For more information please contact:
- Mahlatse Mahlase – SANEF Chairperson, 083 399 2852
- Sam Mkokeli – SANEF Media Freedom 082 084 2051
- Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director 082 926 6404