6 December 2017

South Africa: Sanef Concerned Over Threats to Arrest News24 Journalist and Pauw

The South African National Editor's Forum (Sanef) has condemned a report that the police are looking into investigative journalists Jacques Pauw and Pieter-Louis Myburgh, who have both reported extensively on President Jacob Zuma's alleged corrupt dealings.

Earlier on Wednesday, News24 reported that the SAPS were looking into the two reporters, yet police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo denied that the two were being investigated or that a case had been opened.

Sanef's deputy chairperson Katy Katopodis said on Wednesday that the organisation was deeply concerned by the reports.

"This is very very concerning for us as Sanef. We see this as an intimidation tactic," she said.

"Our message as Sanef is very clear: We're not going to stay silent... Journalism is not a crime," Katopodis said.

She said the organisation was monitoring the developments and would continue to speak out against any attempts to intimidate journalists.

Myburgh, an investigative journalist at News24, wrote the book The Republic of Gupta , and has reported on a number of stories regarding alleged corrupt relationships involving government officials. He also recently won the Vodacom Journalist of the Year awards as part of a team from News24, AmaBhungane and the Daily Maverick for their reporting on the controversial Gupta family.

Pauw has also faced a backlash from governmental organisations, including the State Security Agency and the South African Revenue Services, for his recent book The President's Keepers .

Media Monitoring Africa's William Bird said the reports indicated the politicisation of the police, especially being used by certain people for their own agendas.

He too was "deeply concerned" by the reports.

Bird said it was a clear and present threat to media freedom, but also a clear attempt to undermine the credibility of the journalists.

"[Sanef] need to be making their voices heard about why this is a problem [and] journalists need to express support for their colleagues," he said.

Earlier, News24 editor Adriaan Basson said the police investigation amounted to attempted intimidation.

"It is outrageous that the cops are going after journalists when corrupt politicians and captured business people roam free," he said.

"We will oppose any attempts to bring criminal charges against Myburgh. This is a clear attempt to try and intimidate us from doing our jobs. We won't be deterred," Basson said earlier.

Source: News24

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