27 January, 2015
The Freedom of Expression Institute joins the SA National Editors’ Forum in condemning the censorship by police officers of pictures and attack on journalists in the on-going unrest in Soweto and other townships in Gauteng. The South African National Editors’ Forum expressed its condemnation of the behaviour of police and some members of the public and called on community leaders to inculcate understanding of the role of the media within their communities.
In the first incident three police officers allegedly forced Sapa journalist Mpho Raborife to delete pictures from her cellphone in Dobsonville, Soweto on Thursday 22 January 2015. In the second incident a reporter for Eyewitness News, Leeto Khoza, is presently in hospital having sustained injuries when an unruly crowd of looters tried to disrupt his coverage of the violence.
The Freedom of Expression Institute is aware of a number of instances in the last few years where police officers have illegally stopped or expunged from camera pictures taken at crime scenes with spurious reasons being given. Police Standing Orders are very clear on how police should behave towards the press. At crimes scenes they are expected to aid the press in gathering information that does not compromise any investigation taking place so that the press can inform people about public interest information. There is no question of the press having to ask police for permission to take pictures of what is occurring in a public space.
The Institute maintains that the safety of journalists must be ensured by all, police and communities, in order for the media to effectively perform its duty to inform without fear or favour.
For more information, contact;
T: 011 482 1913
Je Suis Charlie?
The aftermath of the recent horrific murders of media workers in France have raised difficult but important questions about the challenges and place of media freedom in the context of social and political polarization and unequal power. These questions resonate in South Africa where we grapple with the value of freedom of expression, the right to dignity, and the urgent need for a frank and honest social dialogue in the context of massive inequality, racism, faltering social cohesion, increased repression, and an untransformed media.
- Farid Sayed, Muslim Views editor
- Brandan Reynolds, Argus cartoonist
- Terry Bell, Journalist
- Zubeida Jaffer, Media veteran
- Siseko Petros, Media Producer
19 January, 2014
The Freedom of Expression Institute welcomes today’s Constitution Court ruling on the Democratic Alliance’s right to make allegations of “theft” against President Jacob Zuma as it reinforces our belief that political parties must be free to express their opinions of each other, particularly during election campaigns. If citizens are going to be able to make informed voting decisions then there has to be an open and unrestricted flow of information and opinion. We believe the definition of fair comment has to be as wide as possible to ensure we do not restrict ways in which different political parties can call each other to account, and we welcome the fact that the court has done this. In the context of the ongoing debate about the spending on the president’s private home in Nkandla, we are confident that the DA remarks were within the bounds of fair comment. We can agree or disagree with their view, but we will defend anyone’s right to have and share such a view, just as we would defend the right of the president and his party to express strong views on the DA.
Media Statement Released by Constitutional Court
Case referece: Case CCT 76/14
Today the Constitutional Court handed down judgment in an application for leave to appeal against a judgment of the Electoral Court. The dispute involved an SMS which the Democratic Alliance (DA) sent to more than 1.5 million voters in Gauteng during the run-up to the 2014 general elections. The SMS read “The Nkandla report shows how Zuma stole your money to build his R246m home. Vote DA on 7 May to beat corruption. Together for change”, and was sent one day after the Public Protector released a report concerning her investigation into security upgrades at President Zuma’s private residence (Nkandla Report).
A reflection on access to information and freedom of expression in 2014
This is the fifth instalment of Khulum’uZwakale and we are pleased that the newsletter continues to receive support and praise for awakening to the access to information challenges in communities. We thank you for all the support. That said, it is fitting that we look at the highlights of the past year.
Download the latest copy here: Khulum’uZwakale_October-December_Edition 5_Web