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SANEF remembers Black Wednesday and calls for greater support, in defence of press freedom in SA

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18 October 2023

As the country prepares to recognise the brutal events of Black Wednesday, forty-six years ago, it seems a telling time for South Africa to place significant focus on Article 16 of the Bill of Rights and how it is still violated today, under the democratic rule and with one of the most advanced constitutions in the world – specifically where press freedom challenged within its borders, post-apartheid.

As key proponents and defenders of media freedom and advocacy, the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) recognises this day through an annual fundraising dinner during the week of Black Wednesday, aimed at raising funds for legal cases that the organisation usually undertakes. This year guests will have the privilege of listening to the keynote speaker, outgoing Eskom Board chairperson, Mr. Mpho Makwana.

Black Wednesday refers to the events of 19 October 1977, when apartheid-era Justice Minister Jimmy Kruger outlawed over eighteen organisations, including the Union of Black Journalists (UBJ) and three newspapers, The World, Weekend World edited by Percy Qoboza, and Pro Veritate, the publication published by anti-apartheid activist Beyers Naude. Qoboza and his deputy, Aggrey Klaaste, were imprisoned. Naude and Donald Woods, editor of the Daily Dispatch, were banned from writing and put under house arrest.

SANEF is always at the forefront of the protection of media freedom and will always take up cases aimed at availing legal defences through a myriad of interventions, such as when access to courts is denied or journalists are hauled to court.

While recent global events have laced focus on the stringent, punitive, and deadly working environments where journalists are targeted simply for doing their job, SA journalists still face hostile, punitive, and discriminatory circumstances while doing the important work they do.

“In some countries, journalists still face dangerous and deadly consequences and are targeted daily for the work they do. While we show support for these journalists, we sadly must place just as much focus and commitment on doing the same at home – even in a democratic country, protected by a globally respected constitution. We face pervasive and daily threats to press freedom, personal and deadly attacks on journalists, and unlawful attempts to censor the media. This is why the work that SANEF does is so important”, says Reggy Moalusi, SANEF’s Executive Director.

For this reason, SANEF ensures that veritable attention is paid to these matters and that support is offered to journalists and media who have, and still do, make immense sacrifices in the pursuit of ethical and responsible journalism.

To ensure its ability to continue this important work, SANEF hosts an annual fundraising gala dinner in honour of Black Wednesday – importantly, to raise funds for various projects the organisation does, such as raising money for various legal challenges.

Moalusi says: “While SANEF honours the journalists, organisations, editors, and journalists that were banned, harassed, assaulted, imprisoned, and intimidated throughout apartheid and celebrates how far we have come since, it is also sadly a time to reflect on current media freedom challenges, particularly where new forms of censorship, harassment, gender-based threats, and violence have arisen and continue to be pervasive attacks on free press and human rights in a democratic society, protected by a progressive constitution.”

The fundraising event this year supports SANEF’s Media Defence Fund which has been instrumental in supporting several important cases, such as Karyn Maughan v Jacob Zuma; Riot Hlatshwayo v Mpumalanga Police Commissioner; and amaBhungane v the Moti Group. It is also much needed to ensure the support of upcoming cases and to back the significant amount of policy and legislative work required to maintain and improve media freedom and the protection of journalists, editors, and publications in SA.

SANEF calls on all individuals, corporates, businesses, and organisations who believe that a free press is crucial to ensuring human rights, to support the organisation’s annual fundraising dinner. Proceeds support SANEF’s mission to remain at the forefront of protecting journalists’ media freedom and take up cases aimed at availing legal defences or when intervention is required in the case of court access being denied or when journalists are hauled to court.

More information can be obtained by mailing [email protected]

Note to the editor:

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 through fighting for media freedom, writing policy submissions, research, and education and training programmes. SANEF is not a union.


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Bridget van Oerle

The BUZ Factor

0832636991 [email protected]