Pretoria - The Equality Court sitting in the North Gauteng High Court has heard that Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema had allegedly incited fear in journalists which resulted in some of them not doing their jobs as they ought to.
The matter between the EFF and the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) and a group of journalists was heard on Monday.
Sanef approached the court after several journalists were intimidated on social media.
Advocate Daniel Burger, for Sanef, said the EFF and Malema have created an environment that is hostile towards journalists.
Berger cited Malema's July 5th speech outside the state capture commission of inquiry in Johannesburg where the firebrand leader told supporters that, "once journalists take sides, then they should be treated as politicians and that when the enemy raises the head, don't attack the head, cut its head."
Berger quoted Malema as saying if journalists report in a particular manner they will be treated decisively.
"Write their names down and attend to these journalists decisively," he quoted Malema as saying.
Berger said Malema's words are intimidating and are also call to violence.
The advocate said the EFF had sent out mixed messages in his speech by telling his followers that they must, "engage them (journalists) in a civil manner, don't be violent, don't kill them."
"You can't say that, you are sending a mixed message, people can hear selectively," Burger argued.
He said Malema had to know that as a leader, what he says has consequences and sets a precedent for his followers.
Burger made an example about one Twitter user who tweeted saying journalists who write unflattering stories about the EFF, should be visited in their homes.
He argued Malema had retweeted the message.
"A retweet is an endorsement from Malema, saying 'yes let's get the home addresses of these journalists and visit them,'" said Burger.
He said Malema does not condemn his supporters from tweeting information which insinuates violence against journalists.
Berger told the court that Malema and his party are simply saying to journalists: "If you don't write what we like about us, you will be continuously taunted."
He said this behaviour from the EFF has caused journalists to have reservations when reporting about the political party.
"If they have a problem with journalists, they can sue them for defamation or approach the Ombudsman," Burger argued.
Sanef approached the court following intimidation of journalists on social media.
It wants to stop the EFF leadership from threatening journalists and publishing their personal details on public platforms.
Sanef also wants the court to order the EFF to publicly apologise to journalists listed as complainants in this case.
The hearings continue.
African News Agency (ANA)