Voice of Independent Media will not be silenced

Editor in Chief Adri Senekal de Wet who is proud to be among a long line of women editors at Independent Media says her critics will not muzzle her. Picture: Ian Landsberg

Editor in Chief Adri Senekal de Wet who is proud to be among a long line of women editors at Independent Media says her critics will not muzzle her. Picture: Ian Landsberg

Published Mar 22, 2024


I have been ridiculed and insulted repeatedly for defending Independent Media and the right of Dr Iqbal Survé, a black media business owner, to exist in the South African media space.

Interestingly, and just as we celebrated Human Rights Day, “Voice of America” (VoA), the official mouthpiece of the US government - the West’s self-proclaimed custodians of democracy, popped up out of nowhere to put a spotlight on a complaint made by “News24” at the Press Council against “Independent Media”.

The Press Council dispute concerns Edmond Phiri’s opinion piece, published on March 3, in response to Karen Maughan’s report on Dr Survé’s battle against the banks.

The “Voice of America” article raises concerns that “the op-ed on Maughan reflects a wider trend of female journalists being harassed or discredited.”

Yet the irony appears to be lost on the US network, once covertly funded by the CIA, that a series of ridiculous attacks have been made on me, too, and other women journalists who have stood up for Independent Media and our democratic right to exist in a once firmly controlled media space under a racist apartheid government.

Daily Maverick, News24 and recent cohort Johnny-come-lately, the Voice of America, are among the media houses who have taken potshots at Independent Media, its owner and chairman, Dr Survé and myself, the Editor-in-Chief.

Pack journalism has dangerous consequences when reporters from different media outlets collaborate. How many times have Daily Maverick, AmaBhungane and News24 attacked me? Plenty.

Zaphiro even depicted me as Survé’s Imbongi; the list is long. Below are links to some of the articles:

1. https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2019-02-25-to-adri-senekal-de-wet-the-soul-is-dead-at-independent/

2. https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2018-04-23-the-paranoid-persecutory-delusions-of-surves-toady/

3. https://www.citizen.co.za/news/opinion/when-an-editor-crosses-the-line/

4. https://mg.co.za/article/2018-04-26-00-editorial-independence-is-sacred/

5. https://www.timeslive.co.za/sunday-times/opinion-and-analysis/2019-10-27-struggle-doctor-iqbal-survs-war-on-journalistic-integrity-laid-bare/

Reality check

When Sekunjalo took over Independent Media, white males dominated the media company. Today, it proudly has many women editors and reporters, probably the highest number of any newspaper group in the country. These include myself, Managing Editor Melanie Peters, Western Cape Regional Assistant Editor Jade Otto, Post Editor Yogas Nair, Business Report Executive Editor Philippa Larkin, Personal Finance Content Editor Dieketseng Maleke and National Production Editor Renata Ford.

Other women executives include Lutfia Vayej, Agnes Peter, Sandy Naude, and previously, the late Val Boje and Karima Brown.

How does VoA fit into the puzzle?

I was, therefore, somewhat surprised to receive a message from Kate Bartlett of VoA on March 13, the day after News24 published a detailed article (Inside Iqbal Survé's glitchy propaganda machine: Goebbels, AI and slippery writers).

The email read: “Good afternoon, Adri. My name is Kate Bartlett, and I'm a journalist with Voice of America. I'm writing a story about the recent op-ed on Karyn Maughn and the News24 report yesterday, alleging the op-ed writer is not a real person. I'd be grateful for your response to this and any comment on whether Independent Media's owner, Iqbal Survé, is using editorial as a way to target journalists from other organizations who report negatively on his company's business dealings. I can give you a call tomorrow to discuss-- whatever time suits you -- or else happy for a reply on WhatsApp. Many thanks and best, Kate”

I replied by sending her Independent's Media statement of March 12 in which Sekunjalo slammed the News24 article as another attempt to smear and undermine Sekunjalo, Independent Media and Dr Survé.

The statement rejected the baseless and preposterous claims made by News24 that Independent Media opinion writers are part of a ‘PR’ campaign for Sekunjalo or our chairman.

Connecting the Dots

It is clear that News24, Daily Maverick, and VoA are working as a media cabal to undermine Independent Media, which has serious implications for media freedom. We have reported many times that their end game is clear: Independent Media is not welcome in News24 Koos Bekker's space. In fact, I was told so many years ago by an investigations unit head, started by Bekker with “the aim to bring Survé down”. Ask, Jacques Dommisse? PS: It was in 2011 ...

Independent Media, was alerted many times in various articles by our editors that the CIA pays some of our detractors. Furthermore, we have requested Daily Maverick, to publicly declare who pays for the defamatory articles they publish? We know who pays our salaries, do you?

Stop telling us what to publish. Independent Media is dedicated to offering a voice and platform representative of the country. Our editors, reporters and opinion writers reflect our mission.

Perhaps our detractors should investigate Naspers and its mission. Interestingly, the company’s SA CEO was appointed during the time when Naspers was allowed to list abroad. An interesting consequence, right?

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Media Freedom