Daniel Friedman
3 minute read
28 Nov 2018
11:10 am

Malema wants to stop ‘inviting’ journos to EFF events so they can ‘feel safe’

Daniel Friedman

The EFF leader yesterday threatened to 'hit' Sunday Times journalists with a 'strong fist'.

EFF leader Julius Malema is seen addressing supporters outside the Brooklyn Police Station where he opened a case against Pravin Gordhan, 27 November 2018, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

EFF leader Julius Malema told South African Editors’ Forum (Sanef) president Mahlatse Mahlase on Twitter that he was considering stopping “inviting” journalists to EFF events so they could “feel safe”.

“Maybe we should stop inviting all of them to avoid a situation where others don’t feel safe, and others have to also leave in solidarity, just thinking for a solution which will work for all of us,” Malema tweeted.

The tweet was a response to several previous tweets from various people.

It started when investigative journalist and author Jacques Pauw expressed his disagreement with a column by Max du Preez where he argued that journalists should limit their coverage of the EFF and edit out “incendiary talk and wild defamation”. Pauw called this a “dangerous and unwise suggestion” on Du Preez’ part. Two columns in The Citizen, on Tuesday and today, also strongly disagreed with Du Preez.

READ MORE: EFF refuses to meet Sanef over attacks on journalists

A Twitter user calling himself @Spiwo responded to Pauw, accusing the South African Editors’ Forum (Sanef) of being “happy to spread Max du Preez’ dangerous propaganda”.

While Sanef did call for the EFF to meet with them regarding the party’s recent attacks on journalists, the organisation’s role in spreading what the user calls Du Preez’ “propaganda” is unclear, although it seems the tweeter is attempting to link Sanef to News24 through the publication’s editor, Adriaan Basson, who he incorrectly called the editors’ forum’s deputy president.

The tweet also accuses News24 assistant editor of in-depth news Pieter du Toit of “spreading the same anti-democracy propaganda”. What the Twitter user is referring to exactly is unclear, although it may be in reference to du Toit’s sharing of an editorial titled News24 will not stand by when journalists are bullied.

The editorial said that while the publication would continue to cover the EFF, they would “no longer give airtime to their vitriolic attacks on individual journalists or publications because they differ from them”.

Lastly, the tweet accused Sanef president Mahlatse Mahlase of silence on the issue.

This prompted a response from Mahlase, who set the tweeter straight regarding the fact that Basson is Sanef’s treasurer, not deputy president.

“Part of democracy is not to silence anyone but defend their right to express their views even when you disagree with them. News24, that I worked for until recently, has a right to its editorial decision. They will welcome you writing an opposing view!” Mahlase said.

READ MORE: EFF denies calling for an attack on journalists

That, in turn, prompted Malema’s tweet.

The tweet is a continuation, albeit using gentler language, of recent threats from the EFF leader that certain journalists would be banned from covering the EFF.

Yesterday, he told his supporters outside the Brooklyn police station where the EFF had laid criminal charges against Pravin Gordhan

“Let me tell you, I will not be interviewed by a Sunday Times journalist. Nobody will force me, not even a court of law can force me. No judge will come and open my mouth. I don’t want them. They shouldn’t come anywhere. The EFF must start taking a roll call of journalists at EFF events. We don’t want Sunday Times journalists,” he said.

He continued to say that The Sunday Times had accused him of being a “bully” and a “racist”, and that he had threatened to “push back” against the publication and hit them “with a very strong fist”, in an indication that he had no intention to stop threatening journalists any time soon.

Gordhan has called the charges laid against him, including money laundering, corruption, racketeering, fraud, and perjury, an “abuse of the justice system”.

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