The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has condemned the intimidation of Pretoria-based SABC Radio news journalist Phanuel Shuma over a murder case he had been covering.
Shuma was forced to lay a charge of intimidation with the police on Thursday, after two brothers accused of murder and a prosecutor accused of taking a bribe to derail their case, came to the SABC offices in Pretoria.
The SABC News radio journalist says when the men arrived at the SABC offices in Pretoria, he was afraid to meet them in person and instead spoke to them on the phone from the safety of his office.
The men told Shuma that they were not happy with his recent report in which they say linked them to Julius Ndomba Nyundu’s murder and accused them of intimidation.
Nyundu was shot and killed in full view of his family and relatives by three men who fled in a white Mercedes Benz.
Eyewitnesses had contacted Shuma after one of the witnesses in the case was shot dead.
Nyandu was a key witness in a corruption and bribery case involving Bronkhorstspruit prosecutor, Solly Leballo.
Leballo is out on bail and is facing bribery and corruption charges for allegedly taking R100 000 bribe from one of the accused – allegedly to derail the murder case.
Shuma says he was targeted for writing a story about the case.
He adds that he told the men to raise their complaints with the BCCSA or the SABC Head Office in Johannesburg.
“They said they wanted to see and meet the journalist who reported the story in question. I became even more scared. I strongly believe their visit to my workplace was a clear act of intimidation and perhaps to harm me,” says Shuma.
Meanwhile, Sanef says it is calling on law enforcement authorities to act speedily to investigate this and other cases of intimidation of journalists.
The editors’ forum has also urged state institutions to commit to protecting journalists who perform a crucial function in any democracy.
The two men accused of intimidation are Manqoba Khoza and his brother Lucky Khoza