Journalists should be free to work

Image: 123RF/mearicon

Jonas Seanego's threats to journalists remind us of how members of the media frequently face violence and intimidation for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

Journalists are being killed, kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured worldwide for doing their job. Last year, it was the worst year on record for violence and abuse against members of the Fourth Estate, with at least 80 killed, a further 348 imprisoned and 60 held hostage, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

The figures from RSF suggest that more than half of journalists killed last year were deliberately targeted, and that there has been a 15% rise in such killings since 2017.

We doubt that people like Seanego are aware of these shocking statistics. But the point is Seanego should be apprehended and taught a lesson. He must learn to respect other people's jobs, no matter how he differs with them.

His behaviour on Saturday when he unashamedly hurled insults at journalists attending the funeral of his daughter, Mathapelo, could only be described as shameful.

The fact that he unleashed expletives at the cemetery - a sacred place - was disrespectful to Mathapelo and the mourners, including pupils in school uniform, who came in big numbers to pay their last respects to her.

Seanego accused the reporters of coming to the funeral "uninvited". What balderdash! Since when do people get an invite to a funeral?

Grave diggers were also not spared his fury as he tried to beat them up for preventing him from manhandling the journalists. He was duly slapped with a R500 fine and now has to explain himself to a local headman tomorrow.

Seanego's protestation with our journalists stemmed from our front page story on Friday in which we reported about an incident that led to Mathapelo's death. We reported that he faced a charge of defeating the ends of justice after he allegedly tried to hide the vehicle that ran over his daughter. It was being driven by his son without a valid driver's licence.

Seanego continued with his unsolicited threats at our Limpopo bureau chief Frank Maponya on Sunday, saying he will hunt him down and kill him. Maponya has since opened a case of intimidation with the police.

People like Seanego should be taken off our streets.

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