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‘SABC’s new violent demonstrations policy mirrors apartheid govt conditions’

Veteran journalist Joe Thloloe says the policy is similar to that of 1985 - during apartheid.

FILE: SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - National Press Council Director Joe Thloloe says the South African Broadcasting Corporation's (SABC) new policy that it will no longer show certain violent images from service delivery protests, is the same conditions set by the apartheid government.

Thloloe and SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng took part in a heated debate with a number of media organisations in Pretoria last night, unpacking the roles and responsibilities of journalists in South Africa.

The veteran journalist says he has seen the SABC's new policy before, when he was a journalist in 1985, after the apartheid government declared a state of emergency.

"One of the conditions under that state of emergency was that the media shouldn't take pictures at places where there were riots."

He says the policy threatens freedom of speech - as it did during apartheid.

Thloloe says journalists cannot distort the truth by omitting some truths.

"These regulations were exactly what Mr Motsoeneng is trying to do now, saying violent pictures are inciting violence."

Motsoeneng has rejected this argument, saying the policies are not the same.

He says journalists have a role to play in condemning violent acts and not inciting the destruction of property.

But Thloloe says this view is patronising and journalists are not there to decide what is good for the public.

Motsoeneng says he has seen protesters escalate their demonstrations when journalists arrive with their cameras.

"It is very important that we, as responsible people, when we report, we adhere to the policy of the SABC."

Thloloe says journalists should not decide what is good for the public as they simply hold a mirror to society for the public to decide for themselves.

"It is only the censors who think they would tell you what you should watch, what it is you should not watch and who think that everybody is a child."

But Motsoeneng says those criticising the SABC's decision are in the minority, claiming to represent the majority of South Africans.