EFF claims journalists are 'colluding' with ANC to stifle smaller parties

06 August 2019 - 17:27
By Miranda Raaff
EFF leader Julius Malema has denied intimidating journalists.
Image: Sizwe Ndingane EFF leader Julius Malema has denied intimidating journalists.

The EFF claims "certain journalists" are colluding with the ANC to "squeeze" smaller parties in the country.

"Certain journalists have positioned themselves to defend President Cyril Ramaphosa and minister Pravin Gordhan," advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi SC, for the EFF, said in the equality court, sitting at the high court in Pretoria, on Tuesday.

The court heard arguments over the alleged intimidation of journalists, which stemmed from a speech EFF leader Julius Malema made outside the state capture commission in November 2018. Gordhan was at the time testifying before the commissioner, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo.

The SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) and five journalists want the court to declare that the statements by Malema are hate speech. They also want Malema and the EFF to apologise for the utterances.The journalists are News24 editor Adriaan Basson, Daily Maverick journalist Pauli van Wyk, Tiso Blackstar’s associate editor Renjeni Munusamy, Eyewitness News senior journalist Barry Bateman and co-editor of Vrye Weekblad Max du Preez.

The EFF has denied intimidating or harassing journalists.

In its responding affidavit to the court, Malema submitted that Sanef's application with the five journalists was a "thinly veiled attempt to silence the EFF and me as an adversarial contender of the media's ability to determine the news in SA".

"This is especially true where the media, in effect, collude and close ranks with the majority party so as to unfavourably squeeze a smaller party like the EFF," the papers said.

"Respectfully, they are engaged in a calculated process of trying to create a sufficiently damaging atmosphere that will tempt the court into granting them over-inclusive and unduly invasive relief."

He further argued that Sanef did not have judicial standing to bring the application before the court and is seeking to have the application dismissed.

"To try and silence the EFF serves no one," said Ngcukaitobi.

Earlier Ngcukaitobi said that "trolls from faceless and nameless Twitter accounts" were harassing journalists and were also abusive towards the EFF. He said these trolls should be summoned to court through their Twitter handles.

Tweets by Malema also came under scrutiny with Ngcukaitobi stating that any tweets liked or retweeted by Malema did not necessarily mean that he endorsed them.

Ncukaitobi said there was a difference between insults and hate speech, and that some tweets by Malema were in fact insults and not hate speech.