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Sanef condemns ‘harassment’ of eNCA journalists during student protests

Students protesting at the Wits University. It is reported that the student leaders protested over registration issues.

Students protesting at the Wits University. It is reported that the student leaders protested over registration issues.

Fani Mahunts, Gallo Images

  • An eNCA journalist was harassed on Monday by EFF students while covering the ongoing fees protests.
  • The hostility by the EFF towards eNCA stems from the broadcaster’s decision to pull out of the party’s 2019 elective conference after journalists from some media house were barred, by the party, from covering it. 
  • Sanef said it would continue attempts to engage with the party to find a solution. 

The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has condemned the “unlawful and intimidatory” acts by students allegedly aligned to the EFF that prevented eNCA journalists from covering ongoing university fees protests.

“We believe that these acts of intimidation of eNCA journalists by students are rooted in recent tweets by EFF leader Julius Malema encouraging members to not cooperate with journalists from this media house,” said Sanef. 

READ | University fees protests: Students block roads near UJ in early morning demonstration

Malema had last week tweeted: “No journalists Male/Female from eNCA will interview any of the EFF activists anywhere globally; you can all jump anyhow you want. VOTSEK!!!”

During protests in Johannesburg on Monday, eNCA reporter Sli Masikane was allegedly accosted by the EFF-linked students who pushed and shoved her and her camera crew during a heated verbal exchange while she was reporting on the protest. 

“Sanef acknowledges that other student formations intervened and defended Masikane and her camera crew. We also salute the bravery and courage she displayed during the encounter.”

Similar incidents have happened to other eNCA journalists during their coverage of EFF events, after the broadcaster decided it would stop covering the EFF’s elective conference in 2019 in solidarity with some media houses who the party said were not allowed to cover it.

LIST | Student protests: Here are students’ demands

“We believe that eNCA is now being punished for this decision. But this ‘tit-for-tat’ campaign is not good for journalism – the question is, which media entity will be the next victim?

“We believe such tactics by any political formation has no place in our democracy as it fuels attacks on journalists. If the EFF has any issues with the broadcaster they, like all other stakeholders, should engage with eNCA.”

Sanef said that it was also concerned by the silence of the country’s national and provincial assemblies. “The silence of the country’s lawmakers and other political parties represented in our legislative arm of government inadvertently condones the continuation of bullying and intimidation of journalists.

“The United Nations plan of action on the safety of journalists warned that every attack on a journalist distorts reality by creating a climate of fear and self-censorship, and every journalist neutralised by terror, physically or through cyberbullying, results in one less observer of the human condition.”

Sanef said it would continue attempts to reach out to the EFF’s leadership to resolve the matter.  

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