Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) condemns the arrest of the News24 journalist, Kaveel Singh, for doing his job. It was reported that Singh was arrested whilst covering the protests at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Westville campus on Friday, 30 September.
While tensions are understandably high at our universities it is absolutely critical that our journalists are able to do their job freely without intimidation, threat or harassment. Just this week the Supreme Court of Appeal handed down a judgment on the signal jamming case that emphasized the critical role of the media in a democratic society. As we seek to address and understand the issues surrounding the protests it is critical that the majority of people who are not at those events, that they can be exposed to as many diverse, accurate and fair perspectives to those events. Arresting journalists, threatening them and intimidating them constitutes not just a threat to the media professionals concerned or their media houses but also to our democracy. If journalists cannot do their job, if stories cannot be told, if footage is forcibly deleted, how can we hope to get a clear understanding of events around our country. Had it not been for the acts of a handful of journalists at Marikana we might never have known the full atrocity of those events.
We are also aware that the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) has recently held meetings with universities and the South African Police Service (SAPS) over similar threats and incidents. We call on the SAPS, private security firms, university management, students and all members of the public to allow journalists to do their job without fear of arrest and intimidation. We further call on all our journalists and members of the media to ensure they do their jobs to the best of their ability and ensure they practice the highest standards of journalism in their reporting. In as much as it is fundamentally unacceptable for journalists to be threatened, if they themselves are not professional and do not treat those they report on with professionalism they open themselves up to criticism.
Let our media professionals do their job. If we do not, we directly undermine our democracy.
For more information:
William Bird (MMA Director)
+27117881278 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Thandi Smith (Head of Policy Programme)
+27117881278 / email@example.com