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Media violations soar as South Africa protests rage

12 Jul, 2021

What happened

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) is alarmed with the increasing reports of attacks against journalists and media workers with seeming impunity in South Africa in the wake of protests against the incarceration of that country’s former leader, Jacob Zuma.

It was reported that a SABC news crew was 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.

Following the protests, the government has said it will deploy the South African National Defence Forces (SANDF), to assist the police in calming the situation, particularly in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng provinces.

MISA's position

MISA is outraged with the ongoing attacks on journalists in South Africa and calls upon the government of that country to ensure the safety and security of media workers are guaranteed at all times.

The media is an essential service that provides information on events as they unfold, including protests and demonstrations,  which assists the citizens, businesses, and authorities to make informed decisions.

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.

The latest attacks on media workers also 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.

As the army is deployed, we urge caution on the part of the authorities and advise them to ensure that journalists are protected and are allowed to do their work freely and safely.

The South African Constitution protects media freedom and access to information, and by extension, the right of journalists to do their work without hindrance.

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Those affected:
Media workers
Number affected:
2
Perpetrators:
Protesting citizens
Types of actors:
Non-state
Location:
South Africa