Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications on Friday welcomed a ruling by the High Court in Johannesburg granting the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) an interdict against Black First Land First (BLF).
Judge Corrie van der Westhuizen ruled on the matter before lunchtime on Friday, deeming it urgent and granting Sanef its request to interdict BLF from harassing, intimidating, assaulting and threatening journalists, editors and commentators that have been targeted for their reporting on state capture.
“The committee has always held a strong view that intimidation of individual journalists, in any form, goes against the constitutionally enshrined freedom of the press and other media,” committee chairman Humphrey Maxegwana said in a statement.
“It is so unfortunate that BLF supporters gathered outside the home of Mr Peter Bruce to threaten him during the dark period in the media fraternity, following the passing of SABC journalist and producer, Ms Suna Venter. This is because her untimely death is linked to severe stress caused by a number of threats and torture she suffered, as a member of the so-called SABC 8.”
Venter, a member of the so-called SABC 8 — a group of journalists who were suspended from the public broadcaster after they voiced their concern about unlawful interference in the newsroom and editorial policies that were implemented — died last week from a cardiac condition known as stress cardiomyopathy, or broken heart syndrome, believed to be caused by trauma and prolonged periods of unnatural stress.
Venter was sent death threats, shot in the face with a pellet gun and assaulted on at least three occasions, according to colleagues.
“The committee believes that the interdict will send a clear message to everyone that South Africa is a country governed by the rule of law, and that journalists are protected to do their work without fear or favour,” Mxegwana said.
The BLF protested outside the home of Tiso Blackstar editor-at-large Bruce and threatened to protest outside the homes and places of worship of other journalists, editors and commentators, specifically those reporting on state capture.