South Africa: Journalists Threatened After Malema Slurs, Sanef to Intervene

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema.
24 November 2018

The South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) has vowed to take steps following attacks on journalists by EFF leader Julius Malema and other party members.

During its last council meeting held on Saturday, Sanef said it agreed to urgently seek a meeting with the leadership of the EFF.

This comes after Malema's comments outside the state capture commission of inquiry in Parktown, Johannesburg, where he identified specific journalists who he accused of protecting Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Gordhan was testifying about his knowledge of state capture at the commission.

Malema accused the media of ignoring allegations made by the EFF that Gordhan's daughter is in business with the state, News24 previously reported.

Malema said: "These crooks who are calling themselves journalists are sitting with those questions they have never asked Pravin. The deputy president of the EFF came here yesterday and spoke.

"Instead of repeating those quotes, they asked Pravin: 'Why is the EFF attacking you?' I want the EFF leadership from today and the membership to know we are not answering any question(s) from Tiso Blackstar, Daily Maverick, Scorpio, and e.tv which ask us about our wives, about our relatives, about anyone we know, until we ask Pravin these questions in a live interview."

Malema likened the media to the apartheid government's "Stratcom" disinformation campaign, and called Tiso Blackstar "hypocrites".

He also accused the media of double standards in its treatment of the EFF versus its treatment of Gordhan and President Cyril Ramaphosa.

However, Sanef said a series of steps will be "urgently undertaken to stop unacceptable, inflammatory remarks by Malema and other EFF leaders".

The forum said since Malema's comments it has seen some of the journalists physically accosted and abused on social media.

"One journalist was verbally threatened outside the venue of the Zondo Commission, where Malema had made some of these threats. In another incident, a senior editor was accosted by three men who shouted her surname and mocked her while she was out shopping," the forum said.

Sanef said threats by politicians against journalist cannot be tolerated.

"There is a real danger as they filter beyond cyberspace and become physical threats. Criticism is part of democracy but hate speech and sexually abusive threats online and bullying are out of order and can endanger the lives of journalists.

"They also have a chilling effect in newsrooms, with specifically younger journalists feeling fearful and intimidated and thus withdrawing from critical reporting on politicians."

Source: News24

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