Sanef alarmed at threats against news crew in KZN
Johannesburg – The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has expressed alarm over the harassment of a SABC Durban news crew while out in the field in KwaZulu-Natal on Saturday.
"They had been reporting on the impact of the (Covid-19) lockdown on rural communities, but were later blocked and threatened by a group not related to their news story," Sanef said in a statement on Sunday.
Thanks to the swift action of members of the Ulundi South African Police Service (SAPS), the journalists were not injured.
However, Sanef believed that journalists doing essential work – and keeping the public informed – should never be subjected to such traumatic experiences.
Community members threatened to burn the SABC news vehicle, Sanef said.
"Sanef calls on community leaders, including traditional leaders in KwaZulu-Natal and across the country, to ensure that citizens are informed about the media's right to be out in the field as designated essential workers.
"We have a critical job to play to responsibly inform and educate the public about the spread and containment of the virus."
In this case, it appeared that community members turned against the media "out of frustration due to their poverty and due to a lack of service delivery".
Sanef was working with local and national media bodies, including international organisation the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and local media NGO Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), to monitor safety issues.
"From our side, we are satisfied that the media has complied with government regulations and that journalists in the field are equipped with the relevant press cards and permits to allow their free movement to cover all areas of the country."
To ensure the safety and protection of journalists, Sanef had called on all media organisations to make sure their staff were kitted with the relevant protective gear.
"We refer all media organisations to the safety tips included on our Sanef website https://sanef.org.za/coronavirus-covid-19-updates/.
"Further, we call on all media organisations to ensure, wherever possible, that they provide trauma counselling for journalists who have been out on assignment."
Sanef, again, noted the long-term damaging effects of untreated trauma.
"We have compiled a list of trauma and psychological services for journalists that can be accessed on our website," Sanef said.
African News Agency (ANA)