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Four radio stations vandalised in SA riots

14 Jul, 2021

What happened

At least four community radio stations have been vandalised, with equipment worth tens of thousands of United States dollars destroyed as protests rage in South Africa following the incarceration of that country’s former president Jacob Zuma.

Protests have been raging for 10 days now, with the media being a target in some instances.

The radio stations that have so far fallen victim to the protesters are Alex FM, in Alexandra, north of Johannesburg, Mams Radio, In Mamelodi, northeast of Pretoria, West Side FM, in Kagiso, west of Johannesburg and Intokozo FM, in Durban.

In a statement, Alex FM said the property had been damaged and radio equipment stolen during the riots.

“Therefore, this leads to the closing of the radio station for an indefinite period till further notice,” the statement, posted on microblogging site Twitter, said.

The protesters raided Mams Radio, where they vandalised the transmitter, studios, and offices. They also stole equipment from the station.

A similar incident occurred at West Side FM.

The latest attack on the media follows reports that a SABC news crew were robbed of their camera in Alexandra, north of Johannesburg. Newzroom Afrika, an independent television station also reported that its vehicle and a camera were damaged as the protests raged.

This comes after other journalists were attacked at Nkandla, Zuma’s home area, where they were covering protests before the former president was sent to prison.

MISA's position

MISA is outraged by these ongoing wanton attacks on the media in South Africa. What makes this even more appalling is that the authorities do not seem to be doing much to protect the media during these protests.

We call on the authorities to thoroughly investigate these cases and bring all those who are responsible to book, thereby sending a clear message to would-be other perpetrators of these wanton attacks against the media.

The media offers essential services and information during protests. Media violations have the effect of hampering the free flow of information.

The free flow of information, even during protests, is critical as this will help citizens understand what is happening while also allowing the government to communicate directly with its citizens.

These latest attacks against the media come at a time when the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), has raised alarm at the surge in attacks against journalists covering protests.

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Those affected:
Radio stations
Number affected:
4
Perpetrators:
Protesters
Types of actors:
Non-state
Location:
Gauteng and Durban