SAHRC concerned about intimidation of media
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has expressed grave concern about the targeting and intimidation of journalists by the Black First Land First (BLF) group and the threats by the organisation to protest at the homes and places or worship of members of the media.
The commission called on BLF to immediately cease intimidating and harassing journalists. It also called on the group to respect and protect the media’s right to operate without fear or favour.
It noted that Section 16 (1) (a) of the Constitution of South Africa‚ guaranteed “the right to freedom of expression‚ which includes — freedom of the press and other media”.
“A free press is a cornerstone of our constitutional democracy. Any attempt to threaten or intimidate the media is an attack on our democracy and is a violation of our Constitution‚” the SAHRC said in a statement.
“Further‚ section 15 of the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion‚ belief and opinion. As such‚ threats by BFLF to protest at places of worship of members of the media‚ is an infringement of this right‚” it added.
The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) said on Sunday it planned is to apply for an urgent interdict to stop BLF from harassing and intimidating journalists.
SANEF had given the group‚ which allegedly has links to the Guptas‚ until 12 noon on Saturday to give assurances that it would stop harassing‚ threatening and assaulting journalists‚ however‚ the movement declined.
This followed a protest by about 20 BLF members outside the Parkview home of Tiso Blackstar editor-at-large Peter Bruce on Thursday during which he was threatened over an article he wrote about the Guptas. BLF members also assaulted Business Day editor Tim Cohen outside the house.
This was followed by a statement by the organisation on Friday threatening a number of white journalists – among them Peter Bruce‚ amaBhungane’s Sam Sole‚ News24 editor Adriaan Basson‚ 702 presenter Stephen Grootes‚ News24 columnist Max du Preez‚ Eyewitness News’ Barry Bateman and Biznews editor Alec Hogg – accusing them of racism‚ publishing fake news and covering up “white corruption under the guise of journalism” .
The organisation also threatened black journalists who “mimick [sic] these white agents of white monopoly capital‚ such as Ferial Haffajee‚ Carima Brown‚ Eusebius McKaiser”.