File picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/Independent Media
File picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/Independent Media

Death threats aimed at SABC journos a 'direct assault on Parly'

By Chantall Presence Time of article published Dec 14, 2016

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Parliament - The continued death threats aimed at South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) journalists who testified during a parliamentary inquiry into the affairs of the broadcaster was a direct assault on Parliament, MPs said on Wednesday.

"We reiterate our call to the crime-fighting agencies to assist and ensure that all witnesses appearing before the inquiry are protected," said Vincent Smith, chairman of the ad hoc committee conducting the inquiry, in a statement. 

"We condemn any attempt to subvert accountability to Parliament." 

The statement came after United Democratic Movement (UDM) MP Nqabayomzi Kwankwa informed MPs of the threat, reading out one SMS message a journalist received. 

"Traitors protecting your white friends in Parliament who started this, telling lies about your comrades. You are warned, we don't kill blacks but sit and watch the blood flow," the SMS said, according to Kwankwa. 

Smith said the committee viewed the threats in a serious light and had offered to raise the matter with parliamentary authorities.

"The Committee is seriously worried that the management of SABC seems unaware of this life-threatening situation faced by the journalists, following board chairperson's testimony yesterday where he told the Committee that he didn't know about the threats," the statement said. 

On Monday, journalists Thembeka Gqubule, Krivani Pillay, Lukhanyo Calata and Vuyo Mvoko gave harrowing testimony about Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the man who went from an ordinary producer for a Free State current affairs show to top management at the broadcaster, allegedly because he received protection from "Pretoria". 

The journalists were fired earlier this year for objecting openly to censorship, as well as the manipulation and distortion of the news. 

Many have since been reinstated, but claim they continue to be intimidated and receive threats. Motsoeneng, the journalists testified on Monday, had wrought a "reign of terror" over the newsroom, insisting on news policies which included the banning of airing footage of violent service delivery protests, a decision the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa later ordered the broadcaster to withdraw. 

African News Agency

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