At­tacks on the me­dia con­demned

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - MODIEGI MASHAMAITE

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.

Peter Bruce

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