The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) has welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s historic speech tonight announcing a lockdown from midnight on Thursday 26 March until midnight on Thursday 16 April.
We note the categories of people who will be exempted from this lockdown include health workers, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), emergency personnel, those in the security services, the production of food and basic goods, essential banking services and so on. We note that journalists were not included in the speech – but that a “full list of essential personnel will be published”. Our understanding is that journalists will be part of the list.
SANEF believes that it is essential that journalists are allowed to do their jobs so that ordinary citizens have a clear understanding of what is happening in their country – so that they can contain and fight the disease. With people under lockdown, they need the media for information, to stay abreast of what is happening, to know what to do. Broadcasters need special permits to move from their houses to the studios. Media companies have already taken special measures to ensure only a skeleton staff is on call.
SANEF will be seeking further information from the Presidency and GCIS today to get clarity on issues such as categories of media workers that may be excluded – does this include workers at printing presses, delivery truck drivers etc. – identification issues, press cards, possible child care for single parents who are journalists and so on. We will report back to the industry as soon as we have further information.
Finally, SANEF again calls on all media houses to take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of journalists and to avoid sensationalism. We need to ensure the distribution of responsible fact-checked, credible news and information.
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, education and training programmes. SANEF is not a union.
For more information please contact:
Mahlatse Mahlase – SANEF Chairperson, (083) 399-2852
Mary Papayya – Acting SANEF Media Freedom Chair (082) 379-4957
Judy Sandison – SANEF KZN Convenor 0825713334
Sbu Ngalwa – SANEF Eastern Cape Convenor (073) 404-1415
Janet Heard – SANEF Western Cape SANEF Convenor, 0780419528
Hopewell Radebe – SANEF Acting Gauteng Regional Convenor 083 582 1734
Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director – 082 926 6404