SA marks 40th anniversary of #BlackWednesday

The family of late veteran journalist Percy Qoboza says media freedom remains a concern in South Africa.

Late veteran journalist Percy Qoboza. Picture: @BikoFoundation/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - As South Africa marks the 40th anniversary of Black Wednesday, the family of late veteran journalist Percy Qoboza says media freedom remains a concern in South Africa.

Qoboza was one of the editors arrested by the apartheid regime on this day in 1977 when three newspapers were banned by the state.

Nineteen black consciousness organisations were also banned on the same day.

The apartheid government’s decision to ban certain newspapers in October 1977 was widely criticised and seen as an attempt to muzzle the media, especially after its coverage of the death of black consciousness leader Steve Biko in police custody.

Ayanda Ballensiefen, the granddaughter of Qoboza, says her grandfather knew that press freedom would help liberate the country.

She says he fought hard despite his arrest and those of other editors as well as ongoing intimidation.

“He certainly played a role in fighting for what we have today.”

Renowned journalists Joe Thloloe, Mathatha Tsedu and Don Mattera were among those tortured in prison and handed five-year banning orders upon their release.

The South Africa National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) says although the press is now freer, it remains concerned about the so-called secrecy bill which will regulate how state information is dealt with.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)