Johannesburg - SABC journalists fear their phones are being tapped by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), the Mail & Guardian reported on Friday.

President of the Broadcasting, Electronics, Media, and Allied Workers' Union Hannes du Buisson told the paper the union had received a complaint that SABC board chairwoman Zandile Tshabala had told staff to be careful who they spoke to as their phones were being monitored.

“If this is true, we would be very concerned as it would be illegal to do so,” Du Buisson was quoted as saying.

Five editorial staff independently confirmed the details of the January meeting to the weekly paper.

“Basically, she was saying that we must toe the line... and that we must respect the ruling party. She said your phones are being listened to... because the SABC is a national key point,” one staffer said.

SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago told the paper Tshabalala's message had been misinterpreted.

“She was just reminding them that there were leaks in the organisation and that this was a national key point and that people must be loyal to avoid leaks,” Kganyago was quoted as saying. - Sapa