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Malema’s attacks on journalists designed to intimidate, court hears

This was among the submissions made by counsel for the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) and five journalists who have turned to the courts to stop the abuse.

FILE: EFF leader Julius Malema in the High Court in Pretoria on 4 July 2019. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN.

PRETORIA - The Equality Court on Monday heard how Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema's attacks against journalists were designed to intimidate them and stop them from reporting critically about the party.

This was among the submissions made by counsel for the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) and five journalists who have turned to the court to stop the abuse.

The journalists asked the court to interdict Malema and the EFF from intimidating and harassing journalists and prohibit the publishing of their personal information.

The complaints followed several instances where Malema identified journalists by name at public gatherings and on social media and told supporters to deal with them.

Advocate Daniel Burger for Sanef said Malema and the EFF targeted the complainants, and journalists in general, for reporting critically about the party.

“…And they’ve targeted them in a particularly vicious way and at times, in a way that constitutes hate speech and other times, harassment. As a result of that conduct, the followers of the respondents and Mr Malema have themselves tweeted in response to journalists generally.”

He said Malema's intention was clear: “This environment created by the respondents is one that is calculated to stop complainants and other journalists from reporting negatively on Mr Malema and the EFF. And as a result, the respondents deliberately refrained from condemning their supporters and instead, condoned the attacks on the complainants and other journalists.”

The EFF said it would oppose the application.

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