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The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) calls on all journalists and citizens who support media freedom to attend tomorrow’s pickets at the SABC offices in Auckland Park, Johannesburg and Sea Point, Cape Town.
Sanef is concerned at the impact that the “corrosive atmosphere” at the SABC is having on the public’s right to know. Recent editorial policy directives are a direct assault not only on the journalism profession but on media freedom as a whole.
It is for these reasons that Sanef supports the pickets that are being organised by journalists at various SABC buildings on Friday July 1. The protests are being held against censorship and in support of staff who have been taking a stand on these matters of basic journalistic principle.
Sanef has already called on the leadership of the SABC to urgently reverse its decision to censor the news and allow its journalists to work in a free environment that does not compromise their ethics.
Veteran journalists Jimi Matthews has now quit his position as Acting Group CEO, saying there was a corrosive atmosphere at the public broadcaster. Despite the controversy and growing resistance within the corporation, COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng declared on Tuesday that there was no crisis at the SABC, and claimed instead that there was a campaign to destabilise the public broadcaster.
In just the past month alone, visuals of violent incidents were banned, staff were told not to use stories that speak ill of President Jacob Zuma, and three staff members who expressed a dissenting opinion on these issues were suspended. These journalists are facing disciplinary hearings on Friday morning.
Sanef warns against the SABC being turned – once again – into a state broadcaster that only serves the interests of the ruling party.  The SABC is accountable to the South African public, so what is going on at the public broadcaster is of concern to everyone.
Sanef supports the anti-censorship pickets, which are non-partisan and independent. They have been organised by journalists organically via social media, under #journalistrights and #notinmyname.
Details of the pickets:
Journalists and members of the public have been asked to gather at 7:45am at the SABC offices in Sea Point and to wear black with no regalia and placards that read #journalistrights.
Assemble outside SABC Towers on Artillery Rd, Auckland Park, at 09:00 wearing all black and carrying placards that read #journalistrights. There will be a vigil for the suspended journalists facing their disciplinary hearings and then a march from SABC to Constitution Hill in silence, where SABC workers and civil society partners will address us.
Adriaan Basson, 082 562-2113
Chairman of Sanef’s Media Freedom Committee
Raymond Louw, 082 446 5155
Deputy Chairman of Sanef’s Media Freedom Committee