The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has condemned “abusive and intimidatory behaviour” toward an eNCA news team covering EFF protest action at a Clicks store in Goodwood Mall in Cape Town on Monday morning.
An eNCA reporter and cameraman were chased away from covering the protest at the mall, News24 previously reported.
Party leaders, members and supporters descended on the mall as part of a nationwide call to shut down all Clicks stores, following outrage over an offensive hair advert that portrayed black people’s hair as “dry and damaged”.
According to Sanef, eNCA reporter Nobesuthu Hejana said that she and cameraman, Crescendo Louw, had been reporting unhindered at the protest.
“They did a live crossing at 9am. Then, when EFF chairperson Veronica Mente arrived to brief the media, one of the supporters in the crowd shouted that they would ‘not speak to Rupert agents’. Things then deteriorated from there with Mente confirming that the EFF would not address the media until eNCA had left,” Sanef said in a statement.
Hejana said: “Supporters became aggressive, forcing our cameraman to hurry up and leave.”
According to Sanef, Mente said they blocked the eNCA crew in retaliation for the broadcaster’s withdrawal of its coverage of the party’s second elective conference in December last year. The broadcaster withdrew after the EFF banned various media outlets from covering the conference.
In video footage recorded on Monday, the channel’s cameraman was insulted, sworn at and verbally abused.
“Sanef takes serious exception to this kind of intimidation and treatment of journalists by supporters of any political organisation. It is particularly worrying because the EFF is represented in the South African National Assembly and various provincial and local government legislature structures. The EFF is obliged by the South African Constitution to protect the freedom of the media, among other democratic fundamentals.
“Sanef appeals to the EFF and its leadership to uphold the country’s Constitution, which guarantees the existence of the fourth estate as a key pillar of democracy.”
Protect media rights
Sanef said it wished to remind the EFF leadership of the words of former president Nelson Mandela, who addressed the International Press Institute Congress on 14 February 1994, saying: “No single person, nobody of opinion, no political or religious doctrine, no political party or government can claim to have a monopoly on truth.
“For that reason, truth can be arrived at only through the untrammelled contest between and among competing opinions, in which as many viewpoints as possible are given a fair and equal hearing. It has therefore always been our contention that laws, mores, practices and prejudices that place constraints on freedom of expression are a disservice to society.”
Sanef said it called on all media freedom-loving South Africans to protect media rights against any individuals seeking to denigrate the country’s hard-won democratic principles of media freedom.