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Journalists under attack in Coligny, Vuwani

Crime & Courts
Johannesburg – The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) on Monday condemned the physical attacks on journalists around the country. 

Journalists from the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) were attacked over the weekend while covering the protests in Vuwani, Limpopo.

In Coligny in the North West, a photographer was assaulted by a farmer on Monday, while taking pictures outside a house that was torched following court proceedings.

"Freedom of the media and freedom of expression are enshrined in our Constitution and should be respected by society as a whole. As such journalists should be allowed to conduct their work without fear or favour," Sanef said in a statement.

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Residents of Coligny in North West protest against bail for the two farmers charged with killing a 16-year-old boy. File picture: Dimpho Maja

Protesters and farmers in Coligny have attacked and chased away journalists who were covering the violence that erupted in the aftermath of the court decision.

Photographic equipment belonging to journalists from various media houses has also been damaged.

Sanef urged the affected journalists to report the incidents to the police and call on authorities to investigate and charge those responsible for the threats to cause harm, the physical attacks and the damage to journalists’ property.

"We also wish to reiterate our disappointment with the police’s conduct at public events, especially their regular interference with the work of journalists – in their process flouting their own Standing Order 156 which regulates their conduct at public and crime scenes."

Sanef said they had witnessed a number of incidents where police officials prevented journalists from freely gathering information at public events, and news-worthy scenes like public protests and car accidents.

"We strongly condemn these events as they contribute to the increasingly hostile environment journalists operate under," the organisation said.

"We welcome Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula’s condemnation of the attacks on the media in Coligny and hope that he will attend to our concerns on the conduct of the [South African Police Service] SAPS."

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