The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has condemned what it describes as ongoing attacks, harassment and intimidation of journalists.
Sanef says it’s shocked that Newzroom Afrika’s reporter, Mweli Masilela was violently accosted by a group of men while investigating the death of a 16-year-old boy, who allegedly fell into an open mine pit, in Vosman, near Emalahleni, Mpumalanga.
The Forum is calling on all elected leaders as well as the law enforcement authorities to take seriously the safety of journalists.
Sanef Executive Director, Kate Skinner says that police do not take the attack on journalists seriously.
“We’ve seen, for instance, with the South African police. People are not taking seriously what’s happening with journalists. For instance, in the case with the journalists, he basically has been accosted; his equipment had been taken away; his car keys had been taken away and he was severely shaken. He went to the police station and was told that ‘well actually, we can’t see that you have been physically beaten up and therefore, go away.’”
Skinner says when Masilela went back to the police station, he was told to open a protection order against his attackers.
She also says that police need to be educated on taking attacks on journalists seriously.
Listen below to Kate Skinner:
Sanef has also learnt that investigative reporters Mzilikazi wa Afrika and Piet Rampedi have lodged a formal complaint with the Office of the Inspector General of Intelligence as they believe they are being followed and their phones are being bugged.
The two believe this is linked to their reporting on the so-called SARS “rogue unit”.
“We see this as part of a general trend around harassment of journalists. This is very worrying cause we believe that journalists will not be able to report without fear of favour if they are constantly harassed. We would like the police to take these matters very seriously and we’re saying that its very important that cases are open and then taken forward.”