09 February 2019
The South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) condemns the blocking of journalists by Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams from covering the actions of protestors at an ANC manifesto launch in Mount Frere in the Eastern Cape.
SANEF has seen the video footage which was also broadcast on television stations showing the Minister preventing the journalists from covering the protest and ordering them to cover what they came for and not give coverage to “people that are out of order”. Irate supporters stormed the rally complaining about poor service delivery. Journalists from the SABC and other media were among those blocked.
While we note the Minister has apologised for the incident, we are concerned that she refers to her actions as an “altercation”. Given the Minister’s high-profile portfolio relating in particular to the SABC, we would like to have an urgent meeting with her to discuss the matter and our concerns.
We also salute the SABC for airing the footage, showing fierce editorial independence and a shift from the recent past where freedom of expression was undermined at the public broadcaster.
SANEF held its council meeting today and ahead of elections it is calling on party leaders to allow the media to do its work without fear or favor and ensure the safety of journalists at their events.
There is empirical evidence to show that when senior party leaders and politicians muzzle journalists, their supporters follow in their footsteps.
SANEF is a non-profit association whose purpose is to advance ethical and quality journalism – a critical component of media freedom and access to information as enshrined in our Constitution.
We note that due to the work journalists have done over the years to expose corruption – there are people who aim to permanently damage the trust relationship between the public and journalists.
SANEF will continue to champion the cause of independent journalism, to support journalists under threat in our own country and abroad, and to support the deepening of our democracy.
SANEF is concerned that attacks against journalists are escalating and calls on political parties and those elected to lead and not to use journalists as pawns in their political infighting and/ or to cover up corruption. In the run up to the elections highly contested hot spots often pose a threat to the safety of journalists.
Should any person, organization or political party feel genuinely aggrieved by a story or any actions taken by the media, they should follow the correct channels to address their grievances.
SANEF will be holding elections workshops in all nine provinces focusing on elections coverage, ethics and fighting fake news.
For more information contact:
Mahlatse Mahlase – SANEF Chairperson, 083 399 2852
Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director 082 926 6404
Mary Papayya – Chair: SANEF Media Freedom 082 379 4957
Moipone Malefane – SANEF Secretary General 082 772 5861
Sbu Ngalwa – SANEF Media Freedom 073 404 1415