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‘Cold-blooded killing of a renowned journalist a direct attack on our democracy’ – DA KZN leader

Independent Media photojournalist Bongani Mbatha was murdered at his Hammarsdale home. Picture: Supplied

Independent Media photojournalist Bongani Mbatha was murdered at his Hammarsdale home. Picture: Supplied

Published Jul 20, 2023


Durban — The murder of Independent Media’s photojournalist Bongani Mbatha has grabbed the interest of political parties.

The DA in KwaZulu-Natal has demanded justice from the SAPS for Mbatha’s killing.

DA KZN leader Francois Rodgers said: “This cold-blooded killing of a renowned journalist is a direct attack on our democracy. Ultimately, our journalists remain the eyes and ears of the public at large.”

He said that according to reports, Mbatha was gunned down by unknown men at his home in Hammarsdale on Tuesday.

“We are calling on the SAPS to ensure that the perpetrators are arrested and brought to book,” Rodgers said.

“Unfortunately, the province has a troubling track record of high-profile assassinations, coupled with a lamentable and sluggish response in guaranteeing accountability.”

Rodgers added that their thoughts and prayers were with the Mbatha family during this time.

Rodgers said that on Friday, deputy leader Sithembiso Ngema and social development spokesperson Mmabatho Tembe will visit Mbatha’s family to pay their respects and offer condolences to the family.

Meanwhile, the IFP in the KZN legislature condemned Mbatha’s murder.

KZN legislature IFP chief whip Blessed Gwala called on the police to leave no stone unturned and to work around the clock to apprehend those responsible for killing Mbatha.

Gwala said that among others, journalists play a vital watchdog role in society by keeping the public informed of current affairs and holding those in power accountable. They promote the cornerstones of democracy, including truth, transparency, and accountability.

“Therefore, violent attacks on journalists should not only be condemned for their criminal nature, but also because they curtail freedom of expression and access to information for all citizens,” Gwala said.

“The IFP urges the government to do its utmost to prevent violence against journalists and media workers. We further call for the promotion of a safe and enabling environment for journalists to perform their duties independently and without undue interference.”

Gwala added that the IFP extends its condolences to Mbatha’s family, friends and colleagues, and trusts that his killers will be brought to justice swiftly.

The ANC in KZN called on Police Minister Bheki Cele and KZN police commissioner Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi to investigate Mbatha’s murder.

ANC KZN secretary Bheki Mtolo said: “We are calling on law enforcement agencies and the criminal justice system to investigate this murder and many more others.”

He said their prayers were with the family, friends and his colleagues at Independent Media and they send their deepest condolences.

He also called on religious leaders to provide spiritual guidance to the family during this difficult period.

Mbatha’s untimely death leaves a void that will be difficult to fill in the documentation and dissemination of images that reflect the work of the ANC, ANC government and other political parties,” Mtolo said.

“For the past years, Mbatha earned himself respect amongst his peers and praise in society for his dedication to his craft.

“He had a bright future ahead and we salute Independent Media for putting him on the pedestal. This enabled him not only to showcase his talent to the world, but to tell the story of KwaZulu-Natal to multitudes of people.

“As the ANC in the province, we bow our heads in honour of this dedicated member of the Fourth Estate who was a role model to the upcoming photographer,” Mtolo said.

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