Kathrada Foun­da­tion lauds Suna Ven­ter, lashes BLF threats

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

THE Ahmed Kathrada Foun­da­tion yes­ter­day ex­pressed sad­ness at the death of jour­nal­ist Suna Ven­ter, pic­tured, one of the so-called “SABC 8”, and strongly crit­i­cised the Black First Land First (BLF) or­gan­i­sa­tion for its threats against var­i­ous jour­nal­ists.

“Ven­ter trag­i­cally passed on last week due to ‘bro­ken heart syn­drome’ fol­low­ing a se­ries of at­tacks aimed at her af­ter she had raised con­cerns over editorial poli­cies at the SABC,” said Ahmed Kathrada Foun­da­tion di­rec­tor Nee­shan Bal­ton.

Ven­ter, 32, was among the SABC 8 dis­missed for voic­ing con­cerns over the SABC’s now over­turned rul­ing ban­ning vi­o­lent protest footage.

“We have also noted the pass­ing of SABC cam­era op­er­a­tor Zama Mbalo, Carte Blanche’s Jo­hann Botha, and anti-apartheid pho­tog­ra­pher Ran­jith Kally. Our con­do­lences are ex­tended to all their fam­i­lies,” Bal­ton said.

“We can never un­der­es­ti­mate the role jour­nal­ists play in pro­mot­ing and up­hold­ing the con­sti­tu­tional value of free­dom of speech. We must laud jour­nal­ists like Suna, who despite in­tim­i­da­tion, stood res­o­lute.”

Bal­ton said that last year anti-apartheid Strug­gle vet­eran Ahmed Kathrada had met two of the SABC 8 to ex­tend his sup­port to their cause.

“We were shocked at some of the de­tails they shared with us.

“It was how­ever, in­spir­ing to see how or­di­nary jour­nal­ists were will­ing to put their jobs, and some­times their lives, at risk to up­hold the con­sti­tu­tion and to serve the coun­try.

“We con­demn the re­cent tar­get­ing of Busi­ness Day’s Tim Cohen and Peter Bruce by Black First Land First. We also find BLF’s state­ment tar­get­ing a list of white jour­nal­ists and call­ing on cer­tain black jour­nal­ists to ‘re­pent’ most ob­jec­tion­able.

“We can­not al­low jour­nal­ists to be in­tim­i­dated into chang­ing their head­lines sim­ply be­cause a group of peo­ple threaten them. What makes it all the more wor­ry­ing is the BLF group is known for its out­right de­fence of the Gupta fam­ily,” Bal­ton said.

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