Sanef: Media freedom must be fiercely protected

Sanef says if the BLF’s protests were reasonable, they would have protested outside media houses instead of journalist's homes.

Sanef members and other media heading to the High Court in Johannesburg on 6 July 2017. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) says given that media freedom plays a major part in strengthening democracy, it must be fiercely protected.

The organisation has taken the Black First Land First group to the High Court in an urgent bid to stop its members from intimidating and harassing journalists.

Sanef's Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi has told the High Court that if the BLF’s protests were reasonable, the group would have protested outside media houses instead of journalist's homes.

Ngcukaitobi says as soon as journalists leave their places of work, they become individual citizens.

Sanef's Mahlatse Gallens says there has been a rise in the intimidation of journalists.

“We have a number of journalists, not only related to this case but we saw journalists who were attacked in Coligny and toward the local government elections, and we continue to call on the police to investigate those cases.”

Ngcukaitobi has pleaded with the court to ensure the BLF is stopped before greater harm is inflicted.

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Meanwhile, the BLF movement says the only reason the Sanef took it to court is because it has been vocal in requesting Absa to pay back the money.

The BLF says the black journalists who support Sanef have been captured by white monopoly capital.

The BLF's Advocate Brandon Chabangu has told the court that the group's Twitter account was hacked and tweets made against journalists are not their own.

However, a while later the group’s leader Andile Mngxitama told the media he had tweeted warnings to Tiso Blackstar Editor Peter Bruce.

Mngxitama has attributed the case against them to the Absa matter.

“We are not going to stop. We know the reason they are all worked up as they are, is because BLF has won the battle to get Absa to pay back the money.”

The group has promised to continue protesting regardless what the court decides on Friday.