The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) stands in solidarity with journalists from around the world to celebrate World Press Freedom Day. On this day journalists and journalist organisations celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom. We evaluate the status of press freedom internationally and in our countries, regions and continents and we recommit to defending journalists from attacks on their independence. We also pay tribute to the journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.
In this context SANEF joins journalists from around the world to condemn the deadly attack on journalists and civilians in Kabul, Afghanistan on Monday the 30th of April. Ten journalists including an AFP photographer were killed. This was the deadliest day for the country’s media since 2001. SANEF notes that one of the most distressing aspects of this tragedy was that the bomber disguised himself as a journalist and then detonated himself in the crowd. In terms of the African continent, SANEF condemns the ongoing incarceration, harassment and intimidation of journalists.
Back home, however, SANEF celebrates South Africa’s hard-won media and press freedom rights. South Africa’s 1996 Constitution protects the freedom of expression and access to information. But we note that there is still much work to be done. Apartheid-era legislation still remains on our statute books and a number of post-apartheid acts and bills are problematic these include, but are not limited to, the Protection of Critical Infrastructure Bill, the Film and Publications Amendment Bill and the Broadcasting Amendment Bill.
Also, SANEF notes that there have been a number of attacks of journalists in South Africa over the last few years. These have included attacks from the Black First Land First movement in 2017. In 2018 a Netwerk 24 journalist laid an assault charge when he was attacked by Economic Freedom Fighters, Deputy President, Floyd Shivambu in the Parliamentary precinct. Also, SANEF condemned the raid on the house of award-winning investigative journalist and writer, Jacques Pauw by the terrorist-fighting “Crimes Against the State” unit of the Hawks. Another worrying trend we have noted and condemned is the harassment of journalists on community newspapers. For instance, two journalists from the Lowvelder Newspaper were removed by private security from a magistrate’s court in Mpumalanga.
On the positive side however SANEF celebrates the fact that South Africa now ranks 28 in the Word Press Freedom Index. This is an increase of three points from our 2017 World Press Freedom ratings.
Mahlatse Mahlase – SANEF Chairperson
083 339 2852
Sam Mkokeli – SANEF Media Freedom Sub-Committee Chairperson
082 084 2051
Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director
082 926 6404