The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) on Monday condemned threats made against Sunday Times journalist Qaanitah Hunter.
The forum in a statement said Hunter, together with Jeff Wicks, tabled a front page report on plans by former president Jacob Zuma to oust current President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The plans were discussed at a meeting in Durban last week according to the forum.
Hunter has alerted the public that she was sent threatening messages from the ANC Women’s League secretary general Meokgo Matuba, who sent a picture of a gun to her cellphone.
When asked if the picture was meant for Hunter, Matuba allegedly responded by saying she was not sure who had sent the image since she shared a phone with many people.
On Sunday morning, Hunter took to Twitter, sharing a screenshot which shows the gun, which was labelled “stay classy,” and saying “I hear all the denials. But what I really don’t understand is why the SG of the ANCWL sent me a picture of a gun after I called her with questions and she denied even being in Durban on Thursday and even seeing Zuma.”
The editors’ forum condemned the threat to the journalist despite the apology which was later issued.
“The ANC, and its various structures, obviously, have the right to criticize the media, point out inaccuracies and lay formal complaints with bodies such as the press council. However, we believe it is problematic when particular journalists are attacked on a personal level.
“We believe these threats have a chilling effect on freedom of expression and access to information.”
Sanef called on the ANC and all political parties to use the correct channels for complaints while protecting journalists and journalism.
“We believe that this is essential to the safeguarding of the health of our democracy.”
The ANC and ANC Women’s league have released statements condemning the article arguing that it was “false, damaging, and aimed to discredit the ANC leading up to the 2019 elections.”
The ANC has also denied the Durban meeting took place even with pictures showing that Zuma was in Durban at the time.