The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) says is deeply concerned and disgusted by the labeling of certain prominent South African journalists and editors as “Stratcom” agents in a front-page article published by all major Independent Media-owned newspapers on Friday.

This comes after accusations that many veteran journalists were reported to have worked as “Stratcom” agents without any proof being provided.

The faces and names of journalists who have reported critically on this transaction are published alongside those of Vic McPherson and other masterminds of the apartheid state’s Stratcom operation whose main aim was to plant division and spread lies in the anti-apartheid movement.

Sanef has described these claims as not only defamatory, but disgusting.

“This is a sad day for South African journalism. The Independent Media group has been a critical part of the media landscape for decades. Some of the finest journalism to come out of this country has been produced by journalists working on titles like The Star, Cape Times and The Mercury,” says Sanef.

Sanef says it will urgently engage its members at Independent Media to convey their deep concern about this unfair episode and gain a better understanding of the issues that are seemingly not serving journalism.

“We will further write to the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), a main shareholder in Independent Media to urgently express our deep concerns about the lapse of journalistic principles and standards at this important voice in the media landscape,” adds Sanef.

The Editors’ Forum says it stands in solidarity with editors and journalists within the Independent Group who value editorial independence but are seemingly powerless to stop these stories.