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Sanef 'alarmed' by threats against SABC News crew in Ulundi

On Saturday, the team was reporting on the impact of the national lockdown on rural communities when it was allegedly blocked and threatened by a group not related to the story.

Sanef logo. Picture: Sanef website.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) on Sunday said it was alarmed to hear of the harassment of a SABC News crew in Ulundi, KwaZulu-Natal while working on a story.

On Saturday, the team was reporting on the impact of the national lockdown on rural communities when it was allegedly blocked and threatened by a group not related to the story.

In a statement, Sanef said some community members came to the news crew’s rescue.

“Thanks to the swift action of members of the Ulundi SAPS, the journalists were not injured. However, Sanef believes that journalists doing essential work – and keeping the public informed – should never be subjected to such traumatic experiences. Community members threatened to burn the SABC news vehicle,” the statement said.

Sanef called on community leaders - including traditional leaders in KZN and across the country - to ensure that citizens were clearly informed about the media’s right to be out in the field as designated essential workers during the national lockdown.

“We have a critical job to play to responsibly inform and educate the public about the spread and containment of the virus.

“In this case, it appears that community members turned against the media out of frustration due to their poverty and due to a lack of service delivery.”

Sanef said it was working with local and national media bodies including the Committee to Protect Journalists and Media Monitoring Africa to monitor safety issues.

“From our side, we are satisfied that the media has complied with government regulations and that journalists in the field are equipped with the relevant press cards and permits to allow their free movement to cover all areas of the country.

“To ensure the safety and protection of journalists Sanef has called on all media organisations to make sure their staff are kitted with the relevant protective gear.”