Monday marks the 43rd anniversary of Black Wednesday when the apartheid government banned 19 Black Consciousness organisations and several anti- government newspapers such as the World and the Weekend World on 19 October 1977.

The South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) says although the country is in a far better position in terms of media freedom compared to those days, the media industry still faces serious challenges including journalists being harassed by police and communities when covering protests.

A number of events are planned for today, including the 10th Annual Percy Qoboza Memorial Lecture. Qoboza was the then editor of The World newspaper.

SANEF Chairperson Sbusiso Ngalwa says a lot more work needs to be done to educate all sectors of society about the crucial role the media plays in strengthening democracy.

“With COVID-19 we have seen publications close down, we have seen companies announcing mass retrenchments and we have seen no less than 700 journalists losing their jobs during this period.”

“So the reduction in the number of media houses has a direct influence and direct threat to efforts to spread the news and ensure free flow of information.”

South Africa will commemorate Black Wednesday also marked as National Press Freedom day where a number of events will be held where journalists and media workers will reflect on the state of press freedom under the current challenges.