Sanef to meet eNCA over censorship allegations

The offices of e.tv’s 24-hour news service, eNCA
The offices of e.tv’s 24-hour news service, eNCA
Image: Waldo Swiegers

The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has raised concerns after allegations of censorship surfaced against commercial news channel eNCA.

The channel's former political reporter Samkelo Maseko, who  resigned from eNCA this week, on Wednesday caused a storm on social media when he posted on Twitter that eNCA's news editor Kanthan Pillay had censored some stories.

After Maseko confirmed his departure, Pillay posted on Twitter: "Rats swimming toward a sinking ship… #EarlyXmasGift."  

The sinking ship being referred to was apparently the SABC, which recently received a bailout from the state to keep it afloat.

In a media statement released on Thursday, Sanef wrote: "Sanef is deeply concerned … by allegations from former senior eNCA journalist, Samkele Maseko, that eNCA’s Kanthan Pillay had censored stories in the newsroom. The censoring of journalists, who report in ethical and responsible ways, is anathema in our industry and should always be strongly condemned."  

Sanef said media freedom was a critical part of a healthy and functional democracy and should be fiercely protected by all South Africans.

"Sanef will, therefore, write to eNCA management to request a meeting and to seek clarity on Mr. Pillay’s position.

"The allegations of censorship against a senior editorial executive at eNCA go against the principles that Sanef holds dear. Sanef, therefore, calls on eNCA to immediately get to the bottom of these allegations against Pillay," read the statement.  

The allegations of censorship at eNCA come as Sanef has launched an inquiry into Media Ethics headed by judge Kathleen Satchwell to probe recent wrongs in journalism with an aim to strengthen journalism to build trust between and alliances between journalists and the public.  

The forum said it welcomed that Maseko has agreed to approach  Satchwell and the Media Ethics and Credibility Inquiry to discuss these issues further.  

Sanef's Eastern Cape convenor Sbu Ngalwa said on Twitter that Pillay has become a liability to eNCA: "Samkele is a fine journalist and not deserving of such callous treatment. In fact, no journalist deserves that. Censorship is anathema to the basic principles of journalism. As journalist we have an ethical obligation to be fair and balanced."  

Maseko posted: " Do want me to speak about how you threw me out of the @eNCA building like a dog who had stolen something (sic) … How you came to my desk and said I should pack my sh*t and follow you to HR. You are heartless and unethical. Denying some a chance to serve a notice period.

"Want to speak about how you canned an SAA story saying a journalist is an imbongi of the workers, wanting journalists to find faults with workers at all costs whilst protecting bosses. Listen here and listen good, you may be pulling strings there at @eNCA but you will refer to your family as Rats and not Black African children."     

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