The South African National Editors’ Forum notes with concern reports, including video footage, about the intimidation & harassment of journalists covering the “feesmustfall” protests across the country by both the police and protestors.
In particular the police’s heavy-handed approach at the Union Buildings affected journalists from a number of media houses including EWN, Radio702, Daily Vox and BBC. Protestors injured eNCA and SABC and some of this was captured on video. Some photographers were forced to delete photographs already captured.
We note with concern that some journalists, including a reporter from the BBC and an eNCA cameraman, were injured after rocks were thrown at police & journalists at the Union Buildings. Equipment was damaged and there were also reports of theft. Sanef commends those students who intervened and forced their peers to return the equipment.
We also note that at a student meeting yesterday, SABC journalists were ordered to leave, because of the public broadcaster’s alleged bias. A diverse media is the cornerstone of any democracy and journalists must be allowed to report without fear or favour.
Coming at a time when we commemorate the events of Black Wednesday on 19 October 1977 and Media Freedom Day, any attempt to violate the freedoms now entrenched in our Constitution, either by the authorities or members of the public, must be condemned with the contempt it deserves.
Sanef urges any journalist that has been targeted over the past few days to bring this to its attention, so that Sanef can compile a comprehensive report and raise it directly with the police’s top brass and student leaders.
Sanef Executive Director Mathatha Tsedu 0824540527