The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) on Wednesday condemned the manhandling of journalists by supporters of eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede when she appeared in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court and police’s unwillingness to protect the media.
Sanef said it would take the matter up with the court because what happened was a violation of the principle of open justice.
The media body said supporters of the mayor, who faces corruption charges, threatened the media after proceedings adjourned.
According to reporter Kaveel Singh, he was pushed, shoved, and elbowed and that the mayor’s supporters physically blocked him, and fellow journalists, from taking pictures of Gumede as she left the court building.
“However, what was even more problematic was that police sided with her supporters,” Sanef quoted Singh as saying.
Sanef said police had a duty to ensure that journalists could do their work without interference.
“Sanef believes that these restrictions on the media undermined the constitutional principle of ‘open justice’. This is a principle that calls for court proceedings to be open to the public – this includes allowing journalists to film and take pictures outside the court, during breaks and when formal proceedings have adjourned.
“Sanef will be taking up the matter with the Commercial Crimes Court.”
Gumede was granted bail of R50,000. The charges against her relate to a R208m tender with the Durban solid waste department.
– African News Agency