Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema address the party's followers outside the Tiso Blackstar building in Joburg. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)

JOHANNESBURG - The South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) will urgently seek a meeting with the leadership of the EFF following threats made mainly to women journalists by EFF leader Julius Malema and other EFF leaders on social media and at various political rallies, Sanef said on Saturday.   

"Earlier this week, Malema named several journalists and called on EFF supporters to 'deal with them decisively',"  Sanef said in a statement issued after its last council meeting for 2018 on Saturday.

"Following his [Malema] comments, we have seen some of the journalists physically accosted and abused on social media. One journalist was verbally threatened outside the venue of the Zondo Commission, where Malema had made some of these threats. In another incident, a senior editor was accosted by three men who shouted her surname and mocked her while she was out shopping," Sanef said.

A series of steps would be urgently undertaken to stop unacceptable, inflammatory remarks by Malema and other EFF leaders. These incidents were just one example of a series of abusive comments and threats by politicians to journalists and could not be tolerated.

"There is a real danger as they filter beyond cyberspace and become physical threats. Criticism is part of democracy but hate speech and sexually abusive threats online and bullying are out of order and can endanger the lives of journalists. They also have a chilling effect in newsrooms, with specifically younger journalists feeling fearful and intimidated and thus withdrawing from critical reporting on politicians," Sanef said.

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African News Agency (ANA)