SANEF says journalists have a critical role to play

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The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) says it is concerned about the number of attacks on journalists as they cover the coronavirus outbreak in  South Africa.

SANEF says it has received several reports of journalists that have had their equipment taken, as well as being threatened and harassed by law enforcement officers. Fingers are pointed at the police and the army, who have been deployed to enforce the restrictions placed on the movement of South Africans.

It has raised the matter with the SAPS. Senior officials have indicated that the attacks on journalists are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

SANEF chairperson, Mahlatse Mahlase, has appealed to media organisations to make sure their staff are kitted with the relevant protective gear.

“SANEF understands that the pandemic – that has taken the life of one South African and stands at 1170 infections – warrants firm action from the army and police to ensure lock-down restrictions are adhered to.

“However, we want to say that it is important that all ground patrols also strictly adhere to the President’s instructions against excessive force and abuse and also to remind law enforcement officers that journalists are doing an important job and have been designated as emergency workers.

“Journalists, in general, have a critical role to play at this time; to inform, to educate and also to raise awareness.”