Seasoned parliamentary reporter Lukhanyo Calata. Photo: David Ritchie
Seasoned parliamentary reporter Lukhanyo Calata. Photo: David Ritchie

SABC undoing what my father died for: Fort Calata's son

By LANCE WITTEN, DEPUTY NEWS EDITOR Time of article published Jun 27, 2016

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Cape Town - The SABC is “curbing media freedom” according to seasoned parliamentary reporter Lukhanyo Calata.

The journalist and filmmaker issued a statement about the “disturbing direction being taken by my employers” in the wake of the public broadcaster's decision to censor its content.”

Also read: Lukhanyo Calata's full statement

The controversial decision by SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng has already created a stir, with acting chief executive Jimi Matthews tendering his resignation on Monday.

There are also disciplinary processes instituted against a number of employees for breaking ranks, questioning Motsoeneng's decision.

In an exclusive interview with the Cape Argus on Monday, Calata said he was unsure of the mood among his colleagues at the SABC as he has been on leave, but he “needed to do the right thing” and speak out about the latest developments.

Calata is the son of Fort Calata, one of the Cradock Four, murdered by apartheid police in 1985, 31 years ago to the day on Monday.

“I made the decision to become a journalist after years of watching journalists coming to our home as part of their drive to tell the story of my father and his comrades,” Calata said in a statement on Monday.

“Thirty-one years later, I now work as a news reporter, with the sole purpose of telling stories of my people with dedication, truth and freedom. A freedom that many like my father either died or were imprisoned for.

“It is therefore with great sadness that I am confronted with the disturbing direction being taken by my employers. A direction I believe flies in the face of what many have sacrificed.”

Calata said there were thousands who had laid down their lives in the Struggle to achieve the freedoms we now enjoy. Freedoms, he believes are being trampled upon.

“The decisions taken recently by the SABC cannot be described in any other way but being a curbing of media freedom. A freedom to report ethically, truthfully and without bias,” he said.

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“As I reflect on this day and remember the occasions when leaders of our liberation movements stood at my father's grave and waxed lyrical about the freedom he died for, I wonder where they are today.

“How do they live with themselves? How do they watch as the rights and freedoms the Cradock Four were brutally murdered for are systematically being undone?”

Calata was just three years old when his father was killed.

“Did I live without a father so that 31 years later, my own freedom and that of my colleagues is restricted within an institution that is meant to lead in media freedom?

“What do I say to the son I have today about what his grandfather and great grandfather James Arthur Calata fought for?

“I do not do this publicly to condemn my employers but rather seek to remind some of them and all of us, that we cannot forget that people like my father and many others died for us to have the right to speak truth to power when necessary.

“They died so that we can in 2016 do what is expected of us, which is to lead where they left off. To serve this nation with pride, truth, dedication and ethics.”

Calata said he was unsure of what backlash he faced once he returns to work.

“But, if I think about it, my father gave up his life. All I have to do is give up my lifestyle.”

Cape Argus

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