SABC journalists: Fear, low staff morale, public criticism mounting

They've warned changes to editorial policies have resulted in their journalistic integrity being questioned.

SABC headquarters in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Three senior journalists at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) have written a letter to their boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng, describing the heightened sense of fear and low staff morale in their newsrooms.

Eyewitness News is in possession of the letter written and signed by Busisiwe Ntuli, Jacques Steenkamp and Krivani Pillay, who work across various platforms, including the popular investigative show Special Assignment.

The three reporters say the situation has reached a stage where their journalistic integrity has been called into question - and public criticism is mounting.

The SABC journalists warn that sudden changes to editorial policies are in direct contravention of both existing editorial legislation and the South African Constitution.

The letter also goes on to quote the Bill of Rights, which expresses how journalists are bound by their duty to tell the full story, which is also important for the promotion of democracy.

The reporters have expressed grave concern over what they have described as the "victimisation" of their colleagues Thandeka Gqubule, Foeta Krige and Suna Venter, who have been suspended for challenging the public broadcaster's decision to ban the broadcasting of violent protests.

The authors say they feel "aggrieved" at how their journalistic integrity, and the image of the public broadcaster, are continuously being brought into question.

At the same time, acting SABC chief executive officer Jimi Matthews has quit the SABC.

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He tweeted a picture of his resignation letter, saying the corrosive atmosphere at the SABC has impacted negatively on his moral judgement.

Matthews also apologised to the many people he had let down by remaining silent.

To read the full letter from the three journalists, click here.