6 March 2019

South Africa: Sanef Outraged and Shocked By the Actions of EFF Leader and Its Supporters against Veteran Journalist Karima Brown

Photo: Economic Freedom Fighters/Instagram
Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema (file photo).
press release

The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) condemns the systemic, abusive and cruel social media attack levelled against Talk Show Host and veteran journalist Karima Brown over the last 24 hours by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema and his supporters.

Malema published the cell phone number of Brown and shortly thereafter his supporters began a barrage of insults against her – calling her among other derogatory names “an Indian whore and bitch” and levelling insults, threatening her life, and accusing her of allegedly sending moles to spy on them. This after Brown accidently posted a message on an EFF What’s App group. The message was meant for a Journalist group instead.

We call on the EFF leadership to stop with this vicious attack on the media and allow journalists to do their work without fear and intimidation. The attacks on women in media in particular and the abuse levelled against them is contrary to the spirit of wanting to protect women in a country where violence against women has reached pandemic levels.

Only yesterday the EFF stood tall and condemned the abuse levelled against artist Babes Wodumo.

We also remind Malema that when his personal details were published on twitter - SANEF condemned it, just as we condemn his actions to put out Brown’s telephone number.

We further note that the unwarranted attacks on Brown are similar to the previous attacks by the EFF and its supporters on women journalists – a matter that SANEF has placed before the equality courts.

If the EFF leadership has evidence and/or concerns about Brown or any other member of the media they must deal with this in the correct forum including the Broadcasting Complaints Commission for Radio and Television and online or the Press Ombudsman/Council for Print and Online. From a SANEF position there is empirical evidence to show that when senior party leaders and politicians muzzle journalists, their supporters follow in their footsteps.

This attack on Brown is a clear example of the attack on media freedom. Our purpose as a non-profit association is to advance ethical and quality journalism – a critical component of media freedom and access to information as enshrined in our constitution.

We call on Julius Malema and the entire EFF leadership to apologise to Karima Brown.

SANEF will continue to champion the cause of independent journalism, to support journalists under threat in our own country and abroad, and to support the deepening of our democracy.

SANEF lodged a complaint in the Equality Court, late last year against the Economic Freedom Fighters following a barrage of abusive and dangerous threats against journalists in South Africa. SANEF approached the court in defense of media freedom and seeking protection of journalists against sustained intimidation and threats against journalists by Julius Malema and his supporters.

SANEF is concerned that attacks against journalists are escalating and calls on political parties and those elected to lead not to use journalists as pawns in their political infighting and/ or to cover up corruption. In the run up to the elections highly contested hot-spots often pose a threat to the safety of journalists.

We appeal to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to monitor these transgressions against the media and educate political parties on the Electoral Act that allows for media to operate in a free and fair environment.

SANEF has rolled out elections workshops in all nine provinces focusing on elections coverage, ethics and how to deal with disinformation campaigns against them.

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