The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) condemns the abusive and intimidatory behaviour towards an eNCA news team covering the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) protest action at the Clicks store in Goodwood mall on Monday morning. The protesters chased away the team from the protest.
The EFF protest in Goodwood was among a number held at various Clicks stores around the country following an offensive hair advert that portrayed black hair as “dry and damaged” with the EFF demanding that the stores be shut down for at least a week.
eNCA reporter, Nobesuthu Hejana said that she and cameraman, Crescendo Louw had been reporting unhindered at the protest. They did a live crossing at 9am. Then when EFF chair Veronica Mente arrived to brief the media, one of the supporters in the crowd shouted that they, “would not speak to Rupert agents”. Things then deteriorated from there with Mente confirming that the EFF would not address the media until eNCA had left.
“Supporters became aggressive, forcing our cameraman to hurry up and leave,” said Hejana.
Mente said that they were blocking the eNCA crew in retaliation for the broadcaster withdrawing coverage of the party’s second elective conference in December last year. The eNCA had withdrawn in solidarity after the EFF banned various media outlets from covering the EFF conference.
Video footage indicates that the eNCA’s cameraman was insulted, sworn at and abused verbally by EFF supporters.
SANEF takes serious exception to this kind of intimidation and treatment of journalists by supporters of any political organisation. It is particularly worrying because the EFF is represented in the South African National Assembly and various provincial and local government legislature structures. The EFF is obliged by the South African Constitution to protect the freedom of the media, among other democratic fundamentals.
SANEF appeals to the EFF and its leadership to uphold the country’s Constitution, which guarantees the existence of the fourth estate as a key pillar of democracy.
We wish to remind the EFF leadership of the words of the founding father of South Africa’s democracy, Nelson Mandela who addressed the International Press Institute Congress on 14 February 1994 saying, “No single person, nobody of opinion, no political or religious doctrine, no political party or government can claim to have a monopoly on truth. For that reason, truth can be arrived at only through the untrammelled contest between and among competing opinions, in which as many viewpoints as possible are given a fair and equal hearing. It has therefore always been our contention that laws, mores, practices and prejudices that place constraints on freedom of expression are a disservice to society.”
We, therefore, call on all media freedom-loving South Africans to protect media rights against any individuals seeking to denigrate the country’s hard-won democratic principles of media freedom.
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
Judy Sandison – SANEF KZN Convenor (082) 571-3334
Katy Katopodis – SANEF Gauteng Convenor (082) 805-7022
Chiara Carter – Eastern Cape Convenor – 082 659 9162
Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director – (082) 926-6404