The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) condemns in the strongest terms possible the physical attacks on journalists from the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) who were covering the protests in Vuwani, Limpopo on Sunday 7th May. One camera person was assaulted and three vehicles belonging to the public broadcaster were damaged. The perpetrators were members of the public.
Today (Monday 8th May) protestors and farmers in Coligny have attacked and chased away journalists who were covering the violence that erupted in the aftermath of a court decision. Photographic equipment belonging to journalists from various media houses has also been damaged.
Freedom of the media and freedom of expression are enshrined in our Constitution and should be respected by society as a whole. As such journalists should be allowed to conduct their work without fear or favour.
We urge the affected journalists to report the incidents to the police and call on authorities to investigate and charge those responsible for the threats to cause harm, the physical attacks and the damage to journalists’ property.
We also wish to reiterate our disappointment with the police’s conduct at public events, especially their regular interference with the work of journalists – in their process flouting their own Standing Order 156 which regulates their conduct at public and crime scenes.
We have witnessed a number of incidents where police officials block journalists from freely gathering information at public events, and news-worthy scenes like public protests and car accidents.
We strongly condemn these events as they contribute to the increasingly hostile environment journalists operate under.
We welcome Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula’s condemnation of the attacks on the media in Coligny and hope that he will attend to our concerns on the conduct of the SAPS.
Sanef Chair: Sub-Committee on Media Freedom – Sam Mkokeli 082 084 2051
Sanef Deputy Chairperson – Katy Katopodis, 082 805 7022