Cape Town – The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) is greatly concerned by the growing trend of journalists being attacked while covering stories, especially since the election date was announced.
Some areas have now become too dangerous areas to report from, Sanef said in a statement on Thursday. It highlighted the negative impact these ’’callous’’ attacks have on reporters being able to ’’represent all voices’’.
In the latest attack, Eyewitness News reporters Thando Kubheka and Xan Dookey had visited the Winnie Mandela section in Tembisa, Gauteng, on an assignment to engage with the community and gauge its priority services ahead of Monday’s election.
’’When they were packing up and ready to leave, a thief physically attacked Kubheka, kicking her and robbing her of her cellphone. The criminal then ran into a getaway car, which sped off,’’ Sanef said.
’’These attacks show a disregard for the important role that journalists play in bringing news to the people, especially during this election period.
’’The South African National Editors’ Forum is concerned by the impact of these attacks on the media’s ability to represent all voices in storytelling. Since the date of the local government elections was announced, our newsrooms have sent out reporters across South Africa to ensure all voices are heard.
’’Last Thursday, an SABC crew, all women, were held hostage in Buffelshoek village outside Acornhoek, Mpumalanga, where they fortunately escaped unharmed. Days earlier, a news reporter and camera operator from eTV were robbed at gunpoint in Khayelitsha, Cape Town.’’
Recalling her ’’scariest day on the job’’ in Khayelitsha, eTV reporter Natalie Malgas told Weekend Argus: ’’They (four armed men) cleared out our boot, taking all our work equipment and our cellphones, and walked away, leisurely…
’’I was so stunned by the brazen nature of this crime, in broad daylight. In front of a primary school, in front of a security kiosk.’’
Commenting on being caught in life-and-death situations, Athi Mtongana, a reporter with Newzroom Afrika, said: ’’My experiences of reporting from areas like Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain, Nyanga, Philippi Gugulethu, Hanover Park, and Manenberg are not different to those that my colleagues have experienced.
’’Luckily in all of my encounters, I've been able to escape, and none of our equipment… were stolen.’’