JOHANNESBURG - The South African National Editors' Forum has condemned the physical assault on freelance journalist Desmond Latham; a female staff member from Frayintermedia; and a female employee of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), allegedly by members of the VUKTA taxi association at Embalenhle township near Secunda in Mpumalanga on Thursday afternoon.
Latham and his colleagues were covering an ongoing battle at Embalenhle township at about 4.45pm, where the minibus taxi association was fighting a local bus company, Megabus, SANEF said in a statement on Saturday.
“There has been no report about this (story), and we were attacked without warning ... police were involved because the UNICEF person is from Brazil,” Latham was quoted as having said.
“These men are punching women. They appear to be hired by the association. There was no anger or even a sign of any trouble before we were attacked. The taxi company is targeting reporters,” he said.
SANEF said it was deeply concerned that journalists were increasingly facing violence and intimidation for exercising their fundamental right to freedom of expression in South Africa. Women journalists faced specific dangers and were especially vulnerable, and sometimes subjected to mob-related violence when covering public events, often in reprisal for their work.