Sanef says it will not appeal the Equality Court’s judgment in its application to have EFF and Julius Malema interdicted from harassing journalists. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Durban - The South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) says it has opted not to appeal the Equality Court’s judgment in its application to have the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and its leader Julius Malema interdicted from harassing journalists. 

The application was brought before the court by Sanef and journalists Ranjeni Munusamy, Barry Bateman, Adriaan Basson,Pauli van Wyk and Max du Preez to have the party and its supporters interdicted from intimidating journalists on both public and social media platforms as they felt that Malema and his supporters engaged in hate speech while addressing journalists.  

However, the Equality Court dismissed the case, ruling in favour of the political party. 

In a statement, Sanef said: “After careful consideration and legal advice, Sanef accepts, with the benefit of hindsight, that the Equality Court was not the appropriate forum to air our concerns. We take note of the judgment that hate speech is very explicitly targeted against a person’s inherent features as prescribed by the Constitution.” 

The media organisation said that although it found certain aspects of the judgment problematic, it was pleased that the court had acknowledged the importance of protecting journalists. 

“Judge Molefe stated that 'it is thus incumbent on all organs of State, including the judiciary, to not only have regard to, but to take positive steps to protect the safety and independence of journalists'. We trust that state institutions, including the SAPS, and legislators have taken note of this,” read the statement.

Sanef said that it maintains that the intimidation and harassment of journalists, in person or on social media, is unlawful and encouraged journalists targeted with threats and abuse “that in any way endangers them or prohibits them from effectively doing their jobs to come to us”. 

“For Sanef, this is not the end of the road in protecting journalists against hateful comments and intimidation. We intend to pursue all appropriate remedies available in terms of the law, including interdictory relief and criminal recourse. 

“We will also continue to engage with political parties in our pursuit to agree on a code for engagement between journalists and politicians in a Constitutional democracy,” Sanef said. 

Political Bureau