Attacks on the media condemned
SOUTH African journalists and some cabinet ministers have condemned the recent spate of attacks and intimidation of media workers.
This comes after the intimidation of Peter Bruce and the death of one of the so-called “SABC 8”, Suna Venter.
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula told a gathering at the ANC’s national policy conference yesterday that those who march to journalists’ homes must be dealt with.
“When people march to Peter Bruce’s house we must hit them hard. We will not allow people to march to journalists’ houses,” Mbalula said.
These sentiments were echoed by Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, who said the acts were a violation of the journalists’ constitutional rights.
“Journalists should be free to practise their craft without any fear or intimidation, and this comes with a degree of responsibility in their reporting, which includes the values and ethos enshrined under the Bill of Rights,” said Dlodlo.
President Jacob Zuma also commented on the issue in his opening address at the ANC policy conference. “The ANC promotes the rights of journalists to work freely, without hindrance, in our country and to report fairly.”
Last week, Andile Mngxitama’s Black First Land First (BLF) descended on Bruce’s Joburg home, where they held a protest against him for publishing an article on the Gupta family relating to their controversial coal contract with Eskom.
A website called wmcleaks, believed to be intimidating Bruce and his family, was created and contained information about him cheating on his wife, accompanied by surveillance pictures, addresses, ID numbers, his children’s identities and phone numbers.
Some journalists took to social media to condemn BLF’s actions. Among them was @MandyWiener, who tweeted: “#SunaVenter’s heart was broken by her fight for media freedom. #PeterBruce harassed for speaking freely. So heavy a price! Value it always.”
Political journalist @RanjeniM tweted: “Feeling very unsettled by events in our industry… Thugs harassing @ Bruceps, #SunaVenter death…”
@barrybateman said: “The message to Peter Bruce is clear – expose the Guptas and their corrupt cohorts, and you’ll be spied on and attacked at your home.”
@Eusebius was more blunt in his condemnation. “We should ALL STRONGLY CONDEMN THE THUGS protesting outside the home of journalist and editor Peter Bruce. Hands off the media!!!”
Heidi Giokos, a business reporter at eNCA, said: “We are not going anywhere and we need to continue doing our jobs.”
Bruce said that in his 45 years’ experience in the media, he had never trampled on anyone’s privacy, not even the Guptas. “What was done to me was a criminal act and I will obviously seek legal advice on how, or even if, to proceed,” he told BizNews.
“One of the people who created the story about me and placed it on the new wmcleaks. com site was a former Gupta employee, reportedly a relative, now working safely in India.” he added.
The BLF organisation, regarded as supporters of the Guptas, refused to apologise to Bruce and warned that they would continue to protest against “white-owned media”.
BLF national spokesperson Lindsey Maasdorp vowed that they would continue to fight against “white supremacy, capitalism, white media”.
“He (Bruce) uses white monopoly capital to spread lies and tarnish reputations of individuals who are fighting for black liberation,” he told The Star at the weekend.
Contacted for comment, the acting director-general of government communication, Phumla Williams, said a statement on the matter would be issued soon.