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Sanef: Govt policies are supportive of free speech

The editor’s forum says it is aware that some influential individuals resort to threats against media freedom.

FILE: Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe and Sanef members following the Cabinet imbizo. Picture: Dineo Bendile/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) says despite threats made against the media by some individuals, it recognises that government's policies are largely supportive of free speech.

Sanef members were speaking at a gathering with government in Pretoria yesterday where the partnership between the media and the country's leadership was discussed.

The editor's forum says it is aware that some influential individuals resort to threats against media freedom when reports are not in their favour.

Sanef chairperson Mpumelelo Mkhabela says threats made by individuals are not reflective of government's position.

"Some of those threats are not actually part of government's policy and when we raised them, governments clearly stated that those are not part of government's policy."

Deputy chair Moshoeshoe Monare says some aggrieved people even call for the strengthening of laws government is trying to scrap.

"There are some politicians who for example would call for insult laws but at the same time Sanef if working with the governing party in order to outlaw criminal defamation."

Sanef says while it knows that government supports freedom of speech, it's still concerned by the threat posed by the Protection of State Information Bill.

DRAFT BILL TO DECRIMINALISE DEFAMATION COMPLETED

Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe says a draft bill to decriminalise defamation has now been completed and is being discussed.

Government announced earlier this year that it plans to scrap criminal defamation from South Africa's common law.

The move has been supported by the Sanef, which says criminal defamation is against the ethos of the country's constitution.

Radebe says South Africa's reaction to government's decision is proof that the bill is a step in the right direction.

"When we were having that meeting in Johannesburg it was during the Rugby World Cup and at some point was number on trending there on social media on that day, that's how important the issue is."

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